Anti-tobacco bill also suffers a setback in committee

Anti-tobacco activists suffered a setback Tuesday when a legislative committee agreed to consider an alternate text to a bill that would ban smoking in public places.

The Red Nacional Antitobacco sent out a message Tuesday morning saying that the members of Comisión Permanente de Asuntos Sociales were likely to pass the bill out to the full legislature. That did not happen.

The bill is designed to bring the country into conformity with an international treaty on tobacco that entered into force in 2010.

Members of the Movimiento Libertario on the committee presented the new bill which makes substantial changes in the earlier document.
Committee members will take at least a week to study it.

The earlier bill also eliminates tobacco advertising and imposes a tax.

One version forbids selling cigarettes individually as is often done in Costa Rica.

A proponent of the anti-tobacco bill, José María Villalta Florez-Estrada, spoke out against the delay in the afternoon full legislative session. He blamed the tobacco lobby and called them representatives of companies that make business with death.

His comments came as lawmakers in the first debate and vote approved a law that creates a professional organization for physical therapists. The measure will require a second vote to be passed to the president, but there does not seem to be opposition.

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