Law 66 - Thanks for not smoking!

Enjoying a smokeThis Friday, Law Number 66 of 2006 will go into effect. This law prohibits smoking in public places. While the law provided for a six month extension to educate and orient the public about the contents of the new rules, Governor Aníbal Acevedo Vilá eliminated the extension.

The Department of Health is now charged with enforcing the new rule, which stipulates a $250 fine for the first violation, $500 for the second, and $2,000 for each subsequent violation. According to Rosa Pérez Perdomo, Secreary of Health "Entendimos que era más prudente ponerla en todo su vigor en marzo, ya que se ha tenido el tiempo necesario para la gente se prepara." Translation: "You folks knew this was coming, you should be ready for it", well, more or less. The fines apply to both owners and operators of a business or establishment and also individuals that smoke in prohibited locations.

The new rules apply, mostly to enclosed public spaces, to the following locations:

  • All work places, where there is one (1) or more employees (Gee, we get the point. But what kind of work place has no workers? The Government! Boom! Oh yeah, I still got it!)
  • Bars, pubs, discotheque, liquor stores, and casinos
  • Restaurants, cafeterias, bakeries, and any place that sells food , or fast food
  • Classrooms, libraries, hallways, school cafeterias, bathrooms
  • Public and private institutions of learning
  • Public elevators, freight elevators
  • Hospitals and centers of health, public and private
  • Public transportation, official vehicles, and ambulances public and private
  • Private vehicles of transportation when a minor less than age 13 is present
  • Areas that contain liquids, vapors, or flammable materials
  • Gasoline stations
  • Child care centers public and private
  • Public and private recreational parks
  • Convention centers and shopping centers
  • Museums, funeral parlors and court houses (funny they should group those three establishments together)
  • Rest homes
  • Theaters and cinemas
Reaction to the new law

Obviously, many people are outraged and concerned over the new law. Funny enough, some of those people work for RJ Reynolds. Dennise Santos spokesperson for the company claimed that the law would have "un efecto negativo en los recuados del Departamento de Hacienda", translation "This sucks!" RJ Reynolds sells cigarettes under the brands Winston, Salem, and Doral.

Santos sustained that the reduction in sales of cigarettes could be between 7% and 15% for this fiscal year. Hacienda estimates that they will collect $136 million this fiscal year in taxes that apply to specifically to cigarettes, which reflects a 7% reduction in collections or $9.5 million. A 15% reduction in taxes collected would be $20.4 million.

However, according to Juan Carlos Méndez, Secretary of Hacienda, he believes the effect from the law will be minor, but the impact was not evaluated. Santos still insisted that since smokers will have less opportunity to smoke, there has to be a repercussion in cigarette sales.

For those looking to take this new law as a sign to stop smoking, there are many organizations out there to help. The Department of Health is one of those organizations. They have set up a website and established a toll free number (877) 335-2567 to call for help.

Personal reaction

My Father died of smoking related lung cancer when he was 57 years old. My Mother died of smoking related emphysema when she was 66. Considering the cost this habit has on my life and on our society, I'm violently opposed to smoking. If it was up to me, making and selling cigarettes would be illegal, as well as smoking them. However, last year I was talking with my Aunt and she raised a point that made me think. My Father fought in World War II, the Korean War, and in the Vietnam War, he did so out of great patriotism, but also to defend "his" way of life. His way of life involved smoking whenever and wherever he felt like it. He would be shocked to discover that his way of life, the life he risked during three wars, was being taken away from him by politicians. The reality is that there are solutions to this dilemma, but they require compromise, negotiation, and patience all of which are skills and virtues that in our society we are severely lacking. Me, I'm ecstatic about the new law, however, when, on occasion, I remember the old man, I sigh with regret that the world he fought to protect was lost anyway.

Flickr Creative Commons Contributor Today: smokegirl_rebekah