South America free of smoking in public places, PAHO announces
With the decree recently approved by Paraguay, smoking in indoor public spaces and workplaces is now banned in all countries of South America.
Washington, D.C., January 8, 2021 (PAHO) The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) today congratulated Paraguay for banning smoking of lit or electronic tobacco products in enclosed public spaces as well as crowded outdoor places. With this decree, Paraguay joined the rest of South American countries in establishing smoke-free environments in indoor public spaces and workplaces as mandated by the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
“This is a great achievement for the people of Paraguay,” said PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne. “The country has taken an enormous step toward protecting its citizens from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke.”
Under Decree No. 4624, approved by Paraguay’s presidency on December 29, smoking lit, heated, or electronic tobacco products is permitted only in uncrowded open air public spaces that are not transit areas for non-smokers.
Tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death worldwide. By prohibiting smoking in indoor public spaces and workplaces, the decree brings Paraguay into compliance with a central mandate of WHO FCTC, which aims to protect populations from the harmful effects of tobacco.
“This is a great moment not only for the health of Paraguayans, but for the entire region of South America,” said Adriana Blanco, head of WHO FCTC Secretariat. “Paraguay’s decree creates a subregion of the Americas that is totally free of tobacco smoke.”
Smoke-free environments protect people from exposure to tobacco smoke, encourage people to stop smoking and also discourage individuals from ever consuming tobacco, particularly children and youth.
Paraguay’s Ministry of Health has warned that every year 3,000 people die in this country due to diseases associated with tobacco consumption. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated clear links between tobacco use and health outcomes.
“Smoking increases the risk of developing severe COVID-19 disease,” Etienne said. “That is why now more than ever, Paraguay’s decree is a triumph for the health of Paraguayans.”