Legal Magazine

Understanding Brazil’s New Anti-Smoking Law

Posted on the 20 January 2015 by Angelicolaw @AngelicoLaw

A little more than five years ago, the city of Rio de Janeiro began enforcing serious anti-smoking laws. Prior to November 2009, restaurant patrons could enjoy an after-dinner puff on a balcony, at a covered outdoor table or under an awning near the door. As soon as Governor Sergio Cabral signed State Law 5.517/09, it became illegal to smoke any form of tobacco in any confined spaces intended for collective use. When similar anti-smoking laws were passed in the city of São Paulo, restaurants, bars and nightclubs were able to skirt the law by creating special fumódromos where patrons could savor a smoke. The law allowed restaurant patrons to use tobacco at outside tables, provided no smoke wafted back into the establishment. This is no longer the case.

That 2009 law was restrictive, but it did not regulate tobacco use as tightly as new anti-smoking legislation that was just signed into law in December of 2014. Brazil has now effectively banned all use of cigarettes, cigars and tobacco pipes in any public or private place anywhere in the country. No longer can tobacco be lawfully enjoyed in a restaurant, nightclub or public or private meeting hall. The new law additionally prohibits the advertising of tobacco products, even in places where they are legally sold. At this point, you can still smoke inside your residence, but woe to anyone who lights up anywhere outdoors.

If you think the new anti-smoking law goes too far, you’re not alone. When asked his opinion on the matter, Percival Maricato, current president of the Brazilian Association of Bars and Restaurants, had this to say:

“We are in favor of a separation (in public places) of smokers and non-smokers, but the way of the new law there are abuses, it is infringing on the liberty of smokers. The worst part is if someone smokes under a canopy the owner of the establishment is the one who will be fined or even worse – lose their operating license. How can they put that responsibility on us?”

Good question. Is it right that the owner of an established business can be penalized or even lose his license to operate, simply because a customer lit a cigarette in the wrong place? Right or not, that’s how the law is written.

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