PANAMA A SMOKING FREE DESTINATION

Foto_Aerea_Casco_Antiguo_PanamáLight_Effect.315175405_std
Casco Antiguo

Since 2008 Panama has adopted some of the strictest smoking laws in the world. The country banned smoking in nearly all-public spaces, indoor and out, as well as all workplaces and sports venues. It is illegal to smoke in ¨open and closed areas, both public and private¨. The fines for violating this law can run as high as $100.00

That same year, it became the first country in the Americas to ban all advertising, promotion or sponsorship of tobacco products. It also requires 60 percent of tobacco packaging to be covered with health warnings.

These efforts helped Panama become the No. 1 nation at cutting smoking prevalence over the past 15 years, bringing the estimated number of smokers down to 191,200 this year, according to a World Health Organization report. The report details estimated smoking prevalence by country every five years starting in 2000, with projections through 2025.1 To figure out which countries had seen the biggest improvements, I calculated the percentage change in smoking prevalence from 2000 to 2015. Panama topped the list, with a 57 percent decline. I also calculated the percentage change projected from 2015 to 2025.

Smokers only are allow to smoke outside hotels, in patios and in designated areas. Depends on the hotel, but, generally, anywhere outdoors is OK.  If the restaurant has an outside terrace, most restaurants will permit smoking there — however, there are exceptions: some will make you step on to the sidewalk.   The law, is written to prohibit smoking in “all public areas” — and the interpretation of that is apparently up to individual proprietors and municipalities.

With texts from Anna Maria Barry-Jester

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