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Thursday, 2 June 2011

Venezuela bans smoking in public

CARACAS, Jun 2: As the UN urges governments to respect the rights of people to inhale clean air a new law that prohibits smoking in public and closed spaces has come into force in Venezuela.

Signs that remind smokers they will have to take their habit somewhere else have been posted on walls in restaurants, stores, supermarkets, buildings, and shopping centers, the Press TV correspondent in Karakas reported on Tuesday.

"We had many customers but because of the new anti-smoking law, there are very few," says a restaurant owner in Venezuela.

According to the World Health Organization, the tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people per year, and the death toll could rise to more than eight million by 2030.

"Another option is to use the elderly as a vulnerable group in order to push full implementation of the law," says Daniela Mendoza from the Figsocial Foundation.

Venezuela joins countries like Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Spain, Germany, France, and Italy which have already taken measures to restrict the use of tobacco.

Although the anti-smoking law has been widely accepted by Venezuelans, some tobacco companies like Biggott have said that the government could have asked them to discuss the regulations to find an alternative solution. Owners of businesses as well are concerned about the high fines they might have to pay if they committed an infraction.

The UN Agency has asked governments of both rich and poor countries to declare all public indoor places smoke-free, by passing laws and actively enforcing measures to ensure that "everyone has a right to breathe clean air, free from tobacco smoke."

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