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    World No-Tobacco Day in LAC: Puerto Rico Celebrates Fewer Smokers

    By Keith R | June 6, 2007

    Topics: Health Issues, Tobacco Control | No Comments »

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    Puerto Rico observed World No-Tobacco Day (31 May) by recognizing the anti-tobacco work of a mayor and by celebrating a drop in smoking prevalence on the island. On the former, Salinas mayor Carlos Rodríguez Mateo was recognized for pushing through a city ordinance that banned smoking in public places and empowered the police to hand out fines to violators. The municipal action preceded the coming into effect of the island-wide tobacco control law.

    As for the change in smoking prevalence, the Department of Health (Departamento de Salud – DS) reports that there were 16,000 fewer puertorriqueños smoking in 2006 than in the prior year (a 12.5% drop). Puerto Rico has set the goal of getting another 68,000 to quit by 2010. In 2006 some 3,200 Puerto Ricans died from illness linked to tobacco consumption.

    The head of the DS’ tobacco control and prevention, Alberto Cases, points out that the drop came even though PR’s relatively tough new tobacco control law did not take effect until this past March. The law bans smoking in most enclosed public places and within a vehicle whenever a child under 13 is present.

    Cases attributes the success to (1) strong radio and television campaigns about the health risks of smoking and secondhand smoke, and the need for smoke-free public places; (2) a well-utilized free quit-smoking hotline (877-335-2567) that offers advice on quitting strategies.

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