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Brazil to Become World's Largest Smoke-Free Country

Historic Tobacco Control Law Adds Momentum to Latin America's Progress In Fighting Tobacco Use
December 15, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC — The Brazilian government has taken historic action to protect the health of the nation's more than 190 million citizens by enacting a comprehensive tobacco control law. Signed by President Dilma Rousseff today, the new law will make Brazil the largest country in the world to go completely smoke-free, adding momentum to a movement sweeping across Latin America to protect citizens from the deadly toll of tobacco use and secondhand smoke.

The new law requires all enclosed workplaces and public places to be smoke-free, bans tobacco advertising at point of sale, increases tobacco taxes and requires large health warnings on both sides of cigarette packs (current law requires graphic warnings covering the entire back of the pack, but no warning on the front of the pack). The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids joins international health advocates in congratulating Brazil for enacting this life-saving measure into law.

'We applaud President Rousseff and the Brazilian Congress for taking truly historic action to reduce tobacco use and save countless lives,' said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. 'In doing so, Brazil has set a powerful example for the world and added to Latin America's rapid progress in fighting the tobacco epidemic and standing up to the tobacco industry.'

More than 17 percent of adults in Brazil smoke, and tobacco use kills more than 200,000 Brazilians each year. Tobacco is responsible for 45 percent of all heart attack deaths, 85 percent of all emphysema deaths, and 30 percent of deaths caused by cancer in the country.

In addition to protecting the health of its own citizens, Brazil has set an important example for the world, especially as it will be the host nation of the 2014 soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. Brazil's actions send a clear message that global leadership includes leadership in the fight against tobacco, the world's leading cause of preventable death.

Latin America has made dramatic progress against tobacco use in the last five years. Brazil joins twelve countries that have implemented 100 percent smoke-free laws, including Uruguay, Colombia, Panamá, Guatemala, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Argentina, Perú, Honduras, Venezuela, Ecuador and El Salvador. Other examples of Latin America's progress include:

  • Including Brazil, ten countries in Latin America have enacted strong restrictions on advertising, promotion and sponsorship.

  • Five countries in Latin America have a tobacco tax at or above two-thirds of the retail price.

  • Including Brazil, seven countries now have graphic warning labels covering at least 30 percent of the cigarette pack.

  • Uruguay has the largest graphic health warnings in the world, covering 80 percent of the cigarette pack.

Brazil withstood strong tobacco industry lobbying and interference to pass this legislation and move to meet its obligations under the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the world's first international health treaty. Tobacco will kill one billion people worldwide this century unless nations act quickly and effectively to implement the scientifically proven measures called for by the treaty.