Honduran smokers face new challenges

The
last refuge is vanishing for besieged smokers — at least in Honduras.

A
new law has taken effect allowing family members to call in the police on
people who smoke at home.

The
new measure bans smoking in most closed public or private spaces and orders
smokers to stand at least six feet away from non-smokers in any open space.

The
law explicitly bans smoking in schools, gas stations, nightclubs, restaurants,
bars, buses, taxis, stadiums and cultural centres but it doesn’t clearly ban
smoking at home.

A
clause, however, expressly says relatives or visitors can summon police to deal
with smokers at home: “Families or individuals may complain to law
enforcement authorities when smokers expose them to second-hand smoke in
private places and family homes.”

Rony
Portillo, director of the Institute to Prevent Alcoholism and Drug Addiction,
said those who violate the law will first receive a verbal warning and after
the second offense could be arrested.

To
be released they would have to pay a $311 fine, the equivalent of a monthly
minimum wage salary in Honduras.

Some
say the law will be almost impossible to enforce in this Central American
nation of 8 million people with a rampant crime problem and only 12,000 police
officers.

Honduras is only the 29th nation to
adopt such a law out of WHO’s 193 member states.

The
law also outlaws all advertising for tobacco products and requires photos of
lungs affected by cancer to be placed on cigarette packs.

Tobacco
and cigarette companies have 60 days to comply with both requirements.

In
Honduras, 30 per cent of the people smoke, and nine out of 10 Hondurans
suffering from acute bronchitis live in homes where there is a smoker,
according to Honduran health authorities.