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Smoking prevails

Several actions have been taken to prevent smoking yet a survey shows tobacco use increased between 2011 and 2016
File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
11/12/2017
08:26
Mexico City
Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL
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Several and different actions have been taken to prevent smoking in Mexico: more taxes, sale and advertisement bans, photos in cigarette packs showing the harmful effects smoking has on health, and changes in the legislation to protect non-smokers.

Despite all this, recent data from the National Survey on Drugs, Alcohol, and Tobacco Consumption 2016-2017 shows tobacco use isn't declining, on the contrary, it increased slightly between 2011 and 2016 among the population aged 12 to 65, with the percentage going from 17% to 17.6%. Likewise, the average daily cigarette consumption went from 6.5 in 2011 to 7.3 by the end of 2016.

The war is being fought on many fronts, yet two have proven to be the most vulnerable: sales and law compliance. Let's start with sales. Selling single cigarettes and sales to minors are both prohibited by Law, yet convenience stores and street vendors still offer single cigarettes regardless of the age of the client.

The survey performed by the National Commission against Addictions, the National Institute of Psychiatry and the National Institute of Public Health point out that almost half of the 14.8 million of Mexican who consider themselves smokers bought single cigarettes last year.

This is a situation which represents an open door to allow easy access to nicotine addiction. For those who are just falling into the habit, it will always be easier to purchase a single cigarette for MXN$5 (USD$0.50) than a pack, ranging between MXN$40 or MXN$50 (USD$2.4, approx).

Regarding law compliance, the main issue is the ban on smoking in closed spaces. According to the information published today by EL UNIVERSAL, there are testimonies of clients who claim some restaurants and bars in certain areas of the city "lift" the smoking ban before closing time and allow their clients to smoke inside the facilities. Experts have also warned about the risk of reverting the legislation, like in Nuevo Léon, where restaurant owners are pushing to recover spaces for smokers.

Studies say that smoking cigarrettes (nicotine addiction) may lead to other addictions, such as alcoholism or drug addiction. In the fight against smoking, the coordination between the different authorities (health, legislators, and governments) has managed to launch several actions against it, however, smoking prevails. It's time to revise the strategy to reach a substantial decrease in the number of nicotine addicts.

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