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00:00 - Intro with Joanna Junak
00:28 - Tomás O'Gorman discusses Mexico's recent efforts to ban cigarette smoking in all public places
02:38 - What specific restrictions does the new law introduce?
03:53 - Is nicotine vaping included in the new smoking ban?
07:18 - $540 fine introduced for smoking in smoke-free spaces
08:51 - Misconstruing health impacts of smoking and vaping may deter smokers from switching to safer nicotine products
11:02 - Closing remarks


Joanna: Hello and welcome. I'm Joanna Junak and this is GFN News on GFN TV. Mexico has completely banned cigarette smoking in all public places. Previously, the smoking ban only applied to public transport, bars, workplaces and restaurants. From 15 January this year, the government has expanded the legislation to include all indoor and outdoor public spaces. Tomás O'Gorman is an ex smoker and vapor since 2016. As well as cofounder of Pro-Vapeo Mexico and a member of INNCO’s board, Tomás has given us more details regarding the current situation in Mexico. Thank you Tomás, for joining us today. First of all, why did the government introduce the law of binding smoking in Mexico?

Tomás: Well, the law was modified last year and what our government did was they issued an administrative regulation, a set of rules in order to apply or enforce the Toacco law. Now, this set of rules, called Regimento in Mexico is very strict regarding the advertising and promotion of tobacco products. And it also has regulated where you can smoke the smoking places or where it is done to smoke. And the problem is that the regulation that they have issued is so strict that it is going to be quite difficult to find a place where a smoker can have a cigarette. But another problem is that they are all so, including in this ban with a very obscure language, vaping. So in theory, according to this set of rules, regulamento smokers and papers can only consume their respective products in these exclusive places, which if you see the rules, like for instance the Vistas, they have to be apart from many other places, the the aspect that they cannot be surrounded even by a wall. And another regulations, it's going to be in a city quite difficult to find a place where you can smoke or have a vape.

Joanna: You have mentioned advertisement and promotion. Are they also banned now?

Tomás: Well, we have to distinguish and we have to give you some presence. Advertising was tightly regulated since 2008. Now it has been completely banned. And that is regarding tobacco products. The law does not mention anything about vaping. And remember, vaping is banned in Mexico. The commercialization of vaping products is banned. Promotion was already banned since 2008. So what they did is that they cancelled the very few spaces that tobacco companies had to to make some kind of advertising. But they also introduced in Israel a rule where they say that shops or brick and mortar stores, they cannot even show the product. So if you go to a convenience store or any place to buy some cigarettes, you won't be able to see the products. They have to be hidden from the public's view, the consumer's view.

Joanna: Because of this new law, there are many places where smoking is now prohibited. Can you tell us where you can no longer smoke?

Tomás: Almost everywhere they have introduced a concept of collective concurrence spaces. So you cannot smoke in beaches, you cannot smoke in parks, you cannot smoke in terraces, you cannot smoke in balconies, almost in every place where people might be able to gather or to reunite. But also there's some rules that says that smoking is only allowed if the space where you are is considered an exclusive smoking zone which has to be in the opener. It cannot have even a rope, even a wall. It has to be something like 10 meters, 30ft, about 30ft away from any entrance. The thing is that all these restrictions make almost impossible to find a place where to smoke. And what really concerns me is that they are using a very obscure language calling them nicotine products, but not defining the scope of the term and using this term of nicotine products. You might or they might I mean, they are considering that vaping is included. But vaping with nicotine is that the law is so deficiently made and it's relevant to that you might even argue that vaping without nicotine can be done almost everywhere. I mean, there is no provision regulating vaping without nicotine. But because they say tobacco products, sorry, they say nicotine products, then you can conclude, you can think that vaping with nicotine can only be done in smoking places, which is kind of absurd for several reasons. First of all, the government is tightening the regulations regarding tobacco, but they are not allowing smokers to have alternatives because planning is vaping is bad. Second, if vapors cannot eat a smoke vape where people smoke, then they the government is putting them in a place where they will be reading a smoke, but also they might get back to smoking because of being with the smokers. And all these policies and all these rules regarding smoking places and baking places, what they are not evidence based. So the problem is not only that a positive gold, which is reducing tobacco consumption, combustible tobacco consumption, this is a positive or a valid goal. They are using very restrictive and I believe contrary to human rights regulations and they are denying smokers and vapors, there are legal access to vaping problems which is also against human rights.

Joanna: What are the consequences if someone breaks this law?

Tomás: According to the ruling, these rules, if you smoke where you are not allowed, the crociteor or the manager of establishment where you are smoking has to ask you to stop doing it, or if you don't, he has to ask you to be in the place according to the core. There is a fine of kind around now, maybe five, up to $540 if you smoke and according to the regulamento, in in a place where you are not allowed to. And if you make this conduct again, if they appraise you with the file and then you do it again, it can be told. And the law also also talks about the possibility of being arrested for a term of 36 hours which I am not quite sure if it will be applied to smokers. But the law is that the general tobacco law does consider the also the arrest. But I think that the first sanction that can be applied to a smoker or a vapor if they vape in a place where they are not allowed to is going to be a fine up to $500, something like that.

Joanna: And the last question, Tomás, now that smoking is banned, do you think people will start looking for safer nicotine products or are they also banned in Mexico?

Tomás: It's very difficult to say. Smoking is not better completely. But yes, they have made very difficult for a smoker to smoke in a place different that house. So will this make people to look for alternatives? If you consider that they are also considering smoking as using safer tobacco products, because this regular mentor these rules when they define the which is smoking, they say that it is not also using tobacco product, but a combustible tobacco product. But they also include their use of nicotine products and in their thinking nicotine products, even an e-cigarette if you ask me, some Bolognese pasta is nicotine product since tomato has nicotine. Well, that's their thinking. What worries me is that they are going to guess size. If you recall PHE in around 2017 or 18, they issued some points, some guidelines, surviving work to allow vapors to vape. And one thing they make clear is that the government should make a clear distinction between vaping and smoking and they are not doing this. If they're not doing this and they are attributing to vaping charitable damages and risks like if it was a tower clock, well, people will be misinformed and they want transit to safer alternatives. And remember that also safer alternatives in Mexico are banned for commercialization. So it's going to be difficult. But yes, I think that some people will try to start vaping and maybe try stealth vaping, which is not correct, but they might do it.

Joanna: Thank you Tomás. That's all for today. Tune in next time here on Gfntv or on our Gfntv podcast. You can also find transcriptions of each episode on the Gfntv website. Thanks for watching. Watching or listening. See you next time.