San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Government collects almost $20,000 in fines for smoking

In a little more than a year since a new smoking ban in public places took effect, the Health Ministry has collected nearly ₡10 million (some $20,000) in fines to be allocated to its anti-smoking campaign.

Last week the Health Ministry collected ₡7 million ($14,000) for just two violations of the anti-smoking law.

Health officials have issued 24 fines from 150 complaints since the law was adopted last year, mostly for smoking in prohibited areas and for advertising that violates the law.

Last week a communications consultancy firm in Escazú, southwest of San José, was fined ₡3.6 million ($7,200) after a complaint was filed for smoking in public areas.

The British American Tobacco company also paid a similar amount after launching a two-for-one promotion of cigarettes, which also offered a trip abroad. The law that entered into effect in March 2012 forbids promotions aimed at increasing consumption.

After various appeals, the company paid the fine but refused to admit they had violated the law. The company said it would appeal to higher courts.

The Costa Rican Chamber of Hotels (CCH) last month said it would ask the government to modify the law to allow designated smoking in certain areas, as the chamber says hotels, restaurants and casinos have seen a 25 percent drop in business during the law’s first year of implementation.

Contact L. Arias at

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