tocacco plant Native American Tobaccoo flower, leaves, and buds

tocacco Tobacco is an annual or bi-annual growing 1-3 meters tall with large sticky leaves that contain nicotine. Native to the Americas, tobacco has a long history of use as a shamanic inebriant and stimulant. It is extremely popular and well-known for its addictive potential.

tocacco nicotina Nicotiana tabacum

tocacco Nicotiana rustica leaves. Nicotiana rustica leaves have a nicotine content as high as 9%, whereas Nicotiana tabacum (common tobacco) leaves contain about 1 to 3%

tocacco cigar A cigar is a tightly rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco which is ignited so that its smoke may be drawn into the mouth. Cigar tobacco is grown in significant quantities in Brazil, Cameroon, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Sumatra, Philippines, and the Eastern United States.

tocacco Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the fresh leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as an organic pesticide, and in the form of nicotine tartrate it is used in some medicines. In consumption it may be in the form of cheap cigarettes smoking, snuffing, chewing, dipping tobacco, or snus.


Tobacco Issues, Debate and Arguments

Smoke-free laws consistently encounter opposition from a range of organizations and individuals. However, the opposition arguments are normally those promoted by tobacco companies.

The Mexico DF experience was no different. The most vocal opposition came from some leading national newspaper figures and from restaurant and bar owners. As elsewhere, smokers – including those well positioned in the media – put forward arguments that the smoke-free law was an inherent infringement of their right to smoke. It was also argued that smoke-free laws were “first world” and “Anglo-Saxon” laws and inappropriate for a Latin country like Mexico. Restaurant and bar owners were more concerned about the impact of the smoke-free law on their business. Excerpt from BAT Mexico´s Information Bulletin, April–June 2008, still arguing for ventilation in shared spaces.

Supporting the coalition, the Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) helped to develop the cogent arguments used by coalition members to defend the right to health and to counter other arguments being put forward by opponents of the legislation. From the political side, it was argued that “the law contributes to the collective welfare and health of the population in Mexico”. The health risks of exposure to second-hand smoke, the benefits of smoke-free places, and the costs of tobacco-related diseases were highlighted. The “right to breathe clean air” was asserted as trumping the “right to smoke”. It was emphasized that the law was not “anti-smoker” but rather aimed at protecting people from exposure to second-hand smoke. These arguments were deployed by politicians and tobacco advocates in debates in the Assembly, at press conferences and media interviews both in pressing for the smoke-free law and to support compliance after it came into force.

Coalition members and political champions presented the law as an initiative to “protect non-smokers” as well as to “protect workers” from exposure to second-hand smoke. Although not a widespread tactic, some politicians also argued for the need to protect customers from second-hand smoke. Although there was a risk that this could divert attention from the issue of workers’ health and open up freedom-of-choice arguments, this did not seem to materialise as a weakness in the DF debates.

Role of Research

Campaigners and legislators drew on an extensive body of international and national research to help build the case for comprehensive smoke-free laws. Specific studies were also commissioned to generate findings to meet the immediate needs of the campaign and to assess changes that occurred after the law was implemented. Politicians and NGOs actors were able to deploy these research findings in bolstering their arguments within the Assembly, the media and other public platforms.

Key studies included those on:

- effectiveness of the previous smokefree law in public sector buildings;

- levels of second-hand smoke in discotheques before and after the law;

- media coverage of smoke-free laws;

- attitudes to the law, behaviour, and exposure to second-hand smoke.

Effectiveness of Previous Legislation 4.8.1 A research study by INSP, with support from the Institute for Global Tobacco at John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, demonstrated that the pre-existing law on smoking in public buildings was not effective in protecting people from second-hand smoke.

This confirmed findings from elsewhere that shared smoking and nonsmoking areas are ineffective in preventing exposure to tobacco smoke.

Air-quality Monitoring in Discotheques A study of levels of second-hand smoke in a nightclub in Cuernavaca provided first-hand evidence, within Mexico, of the high levels of toxins and harmful particulate matter from tobacco smoke in settings like discotheques frequented by young people.Assessment of Media Coverage An analysis of print media coverage showed that the media was generally neutral or supportive of tobacco control issues in the country. This provided a positive environment and opportunity for tobacco control advocates to use the media for campaigns and to influence the public and political debate.

Attitudinal Surveys

Surveys of residents of Mexico DF aimed to identify changes in attitudes and behaviour in relation to the DF smoke-free law. Public opinion surveys were conducted in March 2008, before the law came into effect, and four months later, in August 2008. The studies also examined awareness of health benefits, experience of exposure, and attitudes to smoking. Key findings included:

- high levels of awareness of the existence of the law: 93% of respondents were aware of the law, in both surveys;

- lower awareness that the law applied to all workplaces: 75% of respondents in August were aware that the law prohibited smoking in all workplaces – perhaps linked to a media focus on restaurants, hotels and bars;

- increased support for smoke-free areas after implementation of the law: support in March for smoke-free restaurants, workplaces and bars/discotheques was relatively high, but by August, support had increased to 82%, 93% and 67% respectively.

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