Costa Rican anti-smoking bill stalled again

August 23, 2011

Luis Antonio Aiza, a legislator for the National Liberation Party (PLN) and doctor by trade, rejected a bill Tuesday that would raise taxes on cigarette prices and limit smoking in public areas. The bill, known as the “Control of Tobacco and its Harmful Effects on Health,” was written in 2008.

Aiza’s rejection of the bill is further evidence of the continued discord in the Legislative Assembly. On Aug. 11, legislator Walter Céspedes of the Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC) blocked a bill that would require national businesses, known as sociedades anónimas or S.A.s, to pay a $300 annual tax that would be used to increase security funding. On Tuesday, the S.A. tax bill was shelved for an additional month and a half despite President Laura Chinchilla pushing for its approval.

“The rejection of these bills indicates that there is very little interest within the Legislative Assembly to work together,” said Carmen Granados of the Citizen Action Party (PAC) on Tuesday.

PLN legislators Xinia Espinoza and Viviana Martin supported Aiza’s decision to reject the bill, claiming that the legislation needed before it should be passed.

“I am not stalling the voting,” Aiza said in a press statement Tuesday evening. “The PLN party voted to add new text to the bill, and we presented it.”

If passed, the anti-tobacco law would limit smoking in public places, regulate advertising by tobacco companies, increase the tax on the purchase of tobacco products and fund a publicity campaign to draw attention to the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.

The anti-tobacco law is expected to be voted on again in the Legislative Assembly next Tuesday.

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