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Brazil reached its historical minimum of smoking and also starts a legal battle against the main tobacco companies
Legislation against tobacco use is lagging behind in Latin America, particularly compared to the United States, Europe, or Australia, which are already advancing ambitious prevention schemes. But in Brazil, the government is already seeing the benefits of discouragement programs, and right now it is perhaps the country that has made the most progress in the fight to eradicate smoking by bringing forward a lawsuit against Philip Morris and British American Tobacco.
Leer en español: Día Mundial sin Tabaco: Brasil lidera la lucha en América Latina
The Brazilian Ministry of Health announced Friday that the number of smokers in Brazil has reached a historical low and since 2006 it has been reduced by 40%. According to this entity, while in 2006 15.6% of Brazilians claimed to have the habit of smoking tobacco, by 2018 this number had been reduced to 9.3%.
In the framework of World No Tobacco Day, the Ministry of Health of Brazil, together with the National Cancer Institute (INCA), also announced the results of an investigation that aims to measure the impact of government policies that restrict the consumption of tobacco in public places. In their report, they declared that through the implementation of the new laws the deaths of 15,068 children under 1 year between 2000 and 2019 would have been prevented, with measurable impacts on the infant mortality rate.
The laws that were introduced in Brazil limited the consumption of tobacco in a differentiated way according to the type of public space to which they referred and included in 2014 a ban on the consumption of tobacco in closed public places.
But the adoption of the new laws was not widespread throughout the Brazilian territory, some States delayed the adoption of the restrictions. According to the report of the Ministry and the INCA, if all the States had adopted the regulations at the same time, an additional 10,091 deaths of children under 1 year could have been prevented.
Brazil demands the big companies
On Tuesday, the Brazilian government made an official request to the world's largest tobacco companies to repair the expenses incurred by the country's public health network in treatments for diseases related to tobacco use.
The petition was addressed to Philip Morris Brazil Industria y Comercio LTDA and Philip Morris Brasil S/A, the two largest tobacco companies in the country that control 90% of the national cigarette market. They also directed it to their parent companies Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco PLC.
The government entity responsible for the request was the State Attorney General (AGU for its acronym in Portuguese), who said according to the EFE news agency that health problems related to cigarette consumption "are reflected in the treatment of diseases that cost tens annually of billions of reais to the public health network."
The total amount that they will request as reparation, however, has not been determined yet, but according to the AGU, it will be possible to calculate it using a process called 'causal epidemiological link' that will allow to determine the percentage of relationship between each disease and the consumption of tobacco.
Similarly, the AGU denied that the petition sought to "prohibit or impede the activity of cigarette manufacturers, which will continue to function normally." It is important to remember that Brazil is a world leader in tobacco production, with 70% of national production destined for international markets.
LatinAmerican Post | Pedro Bernal
Translated from "Día Mundial sin Tabaco: Brasil lidera la lucha en América Latina"