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Tobacco use declining in Costa Rica, Health Ministry says

September 13, 2019

A study of more than 4,000 adults in Costa Rica shows a decrease in the number of people consuming tobacco, the Health Ministry says.

The report, conducted by Costa Rica’s Social Security System, concluded that 11.1% of the population over the age of 20 used tobacco products in 2018. That figure is down from 14.2% in 2010, representing a decrease of more than 33,000 tobacco users.

The numbers are an encouraging development after Costa Rica enacted comprehensive smoking reforms in 2012. Law 9028, signed by former President Laura Chinchilla, banned smoking in bars, restaurants, public buildings, casinos, bus stops and taxi stands.

It also increased taxes on cigarettes and mandated that cigarette packs display large text and photo warnings.

Over the last several years, Costa Rica has also expanded the availability of smoking cessation programs and conducted anti-smoking campaigns in high schools.

The decline in smokers may help Costa Rica reduce the prevalence of cardiovascular disease and cancer, which are among the highest causes of death in the country, according to CCSS epidemiologist Dr. Roy Wong. 

While the Health Ministry did not specifically address the use of e-cigarettes, or vaping, the organization has previously expressed concern about its growing popularity in Costa Rica and argued that further regulations may be necessary.

Anti-tobacco laws prohibit vaping in the same locations that they ban cigarettes, CCSS says.

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