Tourists in Mexico who hope to light up a cigarette at the beach or in other public places now risk paying hefty fines thanks to a new ordinance that recently came into force in the country.
Visitors to Mexico, as well as locals, can now be fined hundreds of dollars for smoking in outdoor public places such as beaches, parks, plazas, hotels, stadiums and other areas, according to a law which took effect in the country last week.
The law, which The BBC reported “equates to one of the strictest anti-tobacco laws in the world”, also includes a ban on advertising tobacco products, and cigarettes are not allowed to be displayed inside stores.
“Mexico is becoming one of the countries at the forefront of protecting the health of children and adolescents,” Gady Zabicky Sirot, head of Mexico’s National Addictions Commission, said in a press release.
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It’s unclear how strictly the law will be enforced in a country where one in eight Mexicans, or about 16 million people, say they smoke, and the BBC has reported that some residents fear corrupt law enforcement officials are using the law to extort money from residents or tourists.
Diana Cedillo, Deputy Director of the National Office for Tobacco Control, told the Washington Post that fines for smoking could be up to $550, and that a 2008 smoking law already in effect could mean up to 36 hours in jail for those who refuse to cooperate.
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At least one hotel, the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya on Mexico’s touristy Yucatan Peninsula just south of Cancun, has already posted online that it has made changes to its property, The Washington Post reported.
“All public areas of the property have been declared free of smoke from cigarettes, vapes, e-cigarettes and all other tobacco products,” the popular resort said online. “Designated smoking areas will be specially marked throughout the hotel for guests to use when needed.”
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Some businesses, particularly in the border town of Ciudad Juarez just across from El Paso, Texas, fear the new law will cost them 20% of their revenue and have suggested they sue the government, according to Border Report.