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Vaping Surge in Costa Rica Alarms Health Authorities

The Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS) reports a worrying increase in health issues linked to vaping, with registered cases rising from 13 in 2021 to 1,456 in 2023. Vaping primarily affects adolescents and young adults, increasing the risk of respiratory diseases, chronic non-communicable diseases, and early deaths.

Dr. Marny Ramos, coordinator of the CCSS Cessation Clinics, warns that vaping is not a safe or effective method to quit smoking and can lead to nicotine addiction and conventional tobacco use. While Costa Rica has made progress with anti-smoking laws, new challenges emerge as younger generations are exposed to attractive tobacco products. Other countries, such as the UK, are considering stricter measures, like banning tobacco sales to those born after 2009.

Costa Rica’s Single-Use Plastics Ban Takes Effect

Costa Rica’s ban on single-use plastics has come into effect. The law, approved in 2021, aims to eliminate items like straws, plates, and cups that contribute to the country’s 60 tons of plastic waste per day. The ban prohibits the sale and free distribution of single-use plastic straws and bags, with exceptions for reusable and biodegradable bags.

Public institutions are also barred from purchasing single-use plastic items. Businesses must meet requirements such as using recycled resin and implementing waste management programs. However, business owners have expressed uncertainty due to a lack of clarity on the new packaging specifications and fear penalties for non-compliance.

Costa Rica’s Tourism Sector Faces Job Losses Amidst Exchange Rate Crisis

The National Chamber of Tourism reported that 544 employees were laid off by its affiliated companies in 2024 due to the negative impact of the exchange rate. The chamber expects another 918 layoffs in the coming weeks if the U.S. dollar continues to devalue and the local currency keeps appreciating.

The private sector claims that the government’s exchange rate policy is destructive, making it difficult for businesses to plan, invest, and maintain jobs. The tourism sector, crucial to Costa Rica’s economy, has been particularly affected. Business owners have repeatedly warned about the layoffs and urged the government to take action, but the Chaves administration has defended the current exchange rate and stated it will not intervene further.

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