Saturday, February 21, 2009

Smoke Where You Please in Guatemala? Not Anymore

Decree 74-2008 went into force on February 20th. The new law prohibits smoking in enclosed spaces, which is defined as any space that is enclosed by walls or covered by a roof. It is only legal to smoke in unenclosed and uncovered spaces.

"All the ashtrays must be removed from tables because smoking areas go down in history," according to Brenda Aquino, of the Ministerial Anti-Tobacco Commission.

Shop owners and managers are in charge of enforcing the new law.

"Do not allow smoking in your establishments," said Marta Maria Tuna, chairman of the committee.

The call is especially aimed at owners and managers of bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and public transport, where fun or conversation between people encourages smoking.

Peter Meng, of the Union of Restauranteurs, explained that they are prepared to verify that no one smokes in their businesses but felt that compliance ambiguous because there is no regulation that explains how to implement the new act.

According to Celso Cerezo, Minister of Health, the rule goes into effect on the 20th but the regulation will be published in about 20 days.

Meng said that the lack of regulation is a problem because many entrepreneurs do not know how to implement the new rules.

After the issuance of regulations, the Ministry of Health will give a grace period of 60 days during which time there will be awareness campaigns and training of 570 inspectors and their managers before imposing sanctions.