Shopping Mall Ordered to Designate Smoking Areas

April 30, 2004

THE Ministry of Health has taken thefirst steps in what at least one man hopeswill become a countrywide policy when itordered the Centro Comercial Multiplaza, ashopping mall in Escazú west of San José,to prohibit smoking in public areas andmark off designated spaces for smokers.The decision was a response to a complaintthat a man filed with the HealthMinistry’s Department of HumanEnvironment Protection, La Naciónreported.Motivated by the death of his mother,a longtime smoker who died of lung cancer,the man, who asked that his name bewithheld, denounced the mall for theclouds of smoke he observed around childrenand non-smokers.HE filed the complaint in August2003 and, after half a year of pickingapart the legal details in the Ministry’sOffice of Legal Affairs, that office recentlydeclared that smokers could only lightup in designated areas of the mall and notin the public hallways and stores.Jorge Díaz, administrator of the mall,appealed the decision, but it was rejected.Mall representatives argue that the hallwayshave high ceilings, are ventilated,and should thus be considered open areasand smoking allowed.Enrique Carranza, head of the mall’slegal department, told La Nación that themall has never done anything in contraryto the law.“THEY (the Ministry) told us that wemust tell each of the stores that smoking isnot allowed. We appealed that because thatis something they (the Ministry) should do,not something that we should do.”He added that the mall is goingthrough a renovation process, whichincludes designating a smoking area andplacing smoking and non-smoking signs.

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