Health & Stats: Cuba's Smoking Ban

Cuba is to restrict its people from enjoying the delights of its most famous export when it bans smoking in public places next month. Cigars are as synonymous with Cuba as whisky is with Scotland, but -- from 2005-02-07 -- smoking will be prohibited in theatres, shops, restaurants, buses, taxis and other enclosed public areas. The government will also ban cigarette vending machines and bring in an age limit of 16 for buying tobacco products. More than half of Cuban adults and a large proportion of young people smoke. But despite President Mr.Fidel Castro's reputation as a revolutionary who was rarely without a cigar in his mouth, he did in fact quit the habit in 1986. Cubans have in the past been encouraged to smoke by their government. Anyone born before 1955 gets four packets of 20 unfiltered cigarettes as part of their monthly ration of basic foodstuffs at a special discount price of around 0.04_GBP each. The standard price is around 0.15_GBP/pack. Unlike the proposed ban in Scotland, the legislation in Cuba is expected to permit smoking in designated areas. Cigars are thought to be one of Cuba's top five exports and they continue to play a key economic role in the impoverished country, generating 111_million_GBP/year. The new regulations, issued by the interior commerce ministry on 2005-01-07, rule that cigarettes will no longer be allowed to be sold near schools and other facilities catering to young people. According to the new regulations:
'Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed or air-conditioned locales open to the public, meeting places, theatres, cinemas and video halls, drivers and passengers on taxis, trains and buses and in all sporting facilities for athletes and workers'.
The smoking ban is intended to improve the health of Cubans, despite the examples of certain legendary Cuban tobacco users, such as the late singer Mr.Compay Segundo, who reached his 90s happily chomping on cigars. Latest statistics show 30 per cent of the 15_000 deaths from preventable cancers in Cuba each year can be linked to smoking. But cigar aficionados were left choking on their 'Cohibas' by the news. Mr.Simon Chase, the marketing director for 'Hunters & Frankau', a UK-based Havana cigar importers, said he knew the Cuban government was about to bring in health warnings but the move to outlaw smoking was entirely unexpected.
'It does appear to be the case they will allow smoking areas. That's really what we have been trying to achieve in the UK although we have had less success in Scotland than elsewhere', he said.
Mr.George Galloway, the MP for 'Glasgow Kelvin' who is about to write a biography of Mr.Castro, said:
'I'm a little surprised by the news. But what I can say is that ... Castro himself stopped smoking many years ago though people of a certain age will always associate him with smoking cigars whilst hiding in the mountains. 'It does seem an odd marketing ploy but the rest of the world is moving towards banning smoking. 'I am sure that people will still buy Cuban cigars and there will always be people like me who enjoy a good "cheroot"; I will certainly continue to smoke them'.
Cuba is the latest in an increasing number of countries to propose a smoking ban. The world's first countrywide ban to come into force was in 'The Republic of Ireland' which outlawed smoking in public places last year, 2004. Several US American cities -- including New York and Los Angeles -- have banned smoking in public places and the ban has also been imposed in Norway, Romania, Italy and Bulgaria. 'Home of the cigar will impose ban on smoking' Edward Black, The Scotsman, 2005-01-24


Anonymous Anonymous said...


1/24/2005 12:09:00 pm  

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