Tourists in Mexico hoping to light a cigarette on the beach or other public places could now face hefty fines thanks to a new regulation that recently came into effect in the country.
Visitors to Mexico, along with locals, can now be fined hundreds of dollars for smoking in outdoor public places such as beaches, parks, city squares, hotels, stadiums and other areas according to a law which took effect in the country last week.
The law, which the TUSEN reported “equates to one of the strictest anti-smoking laws in the world”, includes a ban on advertising tobacco products, and cigarettes cannot be displayed in stores.
“Mexico is becoming one of the countries at the forefront of protecting the health of children and adolescents,” said Gady Zabicky Sirot, head of Mexico’s National Commission against Addictions, in a press release.
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It’s unclear how strictly the law will be enforced in a country where one in eight Mexicans, about 16 million people, say they smoke, and the TUSEN reported that some residents are concerned that corrupt law enforcement officers will use the law to extort money . residents or tourists.
Diana Cedillo, Deputy Director of the National Office of Tobacco Control, told Washington Post that smoking fines can be as high as $550, and a 2008 smoking law already on the books could mean up to 36 hours in jail for those who refuse to cooperate.
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At least one hotel, the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya on Mexico’s tourist-friendly Yucatan Peninsula just south of Cancun, has already posted online that it has made changes to its ownership, Washington Post reported.
“All public areas of the property have been declared smoke-free from cigarettes, vapes, e-cigarettes and all other tobacco products,” the popular resort wrote online. “Designated smoking areas will be specially marked throughout the hotel for guests to use if necessary.”
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Some businesses, particularly in the border town of Ciudad Juarez, directly across from El Paso, Texas, fear the new law will cost them 20% of their revenues and have suggested suing the government, Border Report said.