Every 2 hours and 40 minutes, a Costa Rican dies of tobacco related causes. To demonstrate this statistic, the National Anti-Tobacco Network (Renata) has installed a large alarm clock that rings every 2 hours and 40 minutes in front of the Legislative Assembly in downtown San José.
The clock will remain outside the assembly for one month as opponents of smoking hope lawmakers will take action. Anti-smoking laws have stalled in Congress since 2008.
The most recent setback came in August when Luis Antonio Aiza, a National Liberation Party (PLN) legislator and doctor for the Costa Rican Social Secutiy System (Caja), blocked a law that would have prohibited smoking in public places and raised taxes on cigarettes (TT, August 26). In 2010, the Caja invested ₡73 billion ($145 million) for the treatment of cigarette-related illnesses.
Roberto Castro, a doctor and coordinator for Renata told the daily La Nación, “Tobacco is the only product that kills between 33 and 50 percent of people who use it. We need laws that regulate use so that victims of second-hand smoke will no longer be affected. We have already been waiting for more than 850 days.”