Chile Senate passes tough new anti-smoking law
SANTIAGO, Chile (Reuters) - Chile's Senate, alarmed by the hemisphere's highest rate of smoking among teenage girls, voted unanimously to pass a tough anti-smoking law on Wednesday similar to those in Canada and the United States.
Given the extent of the Senate's support, the measure is expected to easily pass the Chamber of Deputies.
"We are satisfied. We ended up with a reasonable text that is rational and very much in line with laws passed around the world," said Senator Mariano Ruiz Esquide, who is on the Senate Health Committee and who helped shape the law.
According to the government National Narcotics Control Council, known as Conace, most Chileans have their first cigarette by age 15. Twenty-six percent of teen-age girls and 55 percent of Chilean women aged 19-25 smoke.
The same percentage of the country's teenage boys smoke, as do 60 percent of adult Chilean men.
Legislators have been working on new smoking rules since March, when Chile made a commitment to the World Health Organization to bring anti-smoking legislation in line with that of other member countries.
The new law would ban the sale of cigarettes near schools, prohibit smoking in public places such as airports, hospitals and government buildings and limit smoking areas in bars and restaurants. It would also limit where tobacco firms can advertise.