Brazil Moves to Ban Tobacco Ads, Hike Taxes
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazil sent a bill to Congress on Wednesday proposing that Latin America's biggest country ban all tobacco advertising and sports sponsorship and hike cigarette taxes in a bid to prevent kids from getting hooked on smoking.
To commemorate World No-Tobacco Day, the Health Ministry signed off on the bill and released its first major study on smoking in Brazil, which predicts higher taxes could cut smoking over time by up to 12%. ``The approval of this bill will be very important to our fight,'' Jacob Kligerman, general director of the ministry's National Cancer Institute, said at a press conference.
Officials hope that by hiking prices and prohibiting advertising on television and at popular sports events like car races they can discourage youths from smoking.
Brazilians smoke only half as much as US residents on a per capita basis, but officials in the country of 165 million people are alarmed by the number of youths lighting up. Brazil is home to 2.7 million smokers between the ages of 5 and 19.
``This is a fundamental question for a country if it doesn't want its children dying of cancer,'' said Vera Luiza da Costa Silva, coordinator of the ministry's smoking prevention programmes.
Because Brazil is a low-cost tobacco producer, local cigarettes are some of the cheapest in the world at $1.62 a carton, including a 74% tax.
The ministry said that with a 15% price increase through higher taxes, smoking would drop off between 1.5 and 3% in the short term and between 6 and 12% in the long term.
The ministry has also launched a new advertising campaign that spotlights the death from lung cancer of Wayne McLaren, a former model for a famous brand of cigarettes.
In the ad, one horseman asks another as they ride into the sunset ``You know that cowboy from the cigarette ads? He died from cancer.''
Worldwide, about 3.4 million people die from smoking each year, according to the World Health Organisation.