Cigarette makers now have to cover packs with warnings

President Laura Chinchilla took another step in the central government’s battle against tobacco Tuesday. She signed a decree that requires cigarette companies to cover at least 50 percent of each pack with warning messages about the risk and damage of tobacco. These can be words or graphics.

This is the next logical step after the president signed off on an anti-tobacco law in March 2012. The central government seeks to make the country 100 percent free of tobacco.

The law went into effect in stages. Initially individuals were forbidden to smoke in the workplace, restaurants and bars. That is why many small groups can be seen congregating on sidewalks smoking. A recent addition is the prohibition of selling fewer than 10 cigarettes at a time. Some Costa Ricans had a tradition of buying a single cigarette from a street vendor when they wanted a smoke. The government hopes that purchase of multiple cigarettes will reduce the demand.

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