San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

No smoking ban in Costa Rican bars, restaurants goes into effect

After Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla signed the Control of Tobacco and its Harmful Effects on Health Bill on Thursday, approving sweeping reforms to Costa Rica’s regulations on smoking, the law was published Monday in La Gaceta, the official government newspaper, making the legislation official.

The law bans smoking in places such as bars, restaurants, public buildings, casinos, bus stops and taxi stands. Taxes will increase ₡20 ($0.04 cents) per cigarette. The legislation mandates cigarette packs display text and photo warnings on at least 50 percent of the box. Tobacco companies have six months to comply with the latter law.

The Health Ministry is still working on reglamentos, or regulations, which explain how the law will be enforced. The ministry has 90 days to release regulations, while business owners adjust to the new rules. A Health Ministry official said in upcoming days, the organization will release a form for filing denuncias (official complaints) against those violating the law.

Manuel Burgos, president of the Restaurant Chamber, also announced Tuesday that he plans to file an injunction in April against the constitutionality of certain aspects of the law that he said violate business owners’ rights.

The smoke-free law follows guidelines set by the World Health Organization, already put into practice in nine other Latin American countries.

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