The Mexican Government Sunday banned smoking in public and restricted the advertisement of tobacco products as the country’s new General Tobacco Law came into force. The new regulations increase scrutiny on the manufacture, use, and advertisement of tobacco in order to ensure that public spaces are tobacco-free. The General Tobacco Law is among the world’s strictest smoke-free legislation.
The government aims to greatly reduce the promotion of tobacco and prohibits companies from carrying out any form of advertisement and sponsorship, including paid ads on digital platforms. The sale of cigars, in particular, is strictly regulated, requiring companies to include visible health messages and pictograms on the packaging and forbidding the display of cigars in stores.
The new policy also emphasizes protection against secondhand smoke. Stakeholders, such as owners, administrators or persons responsible for any public space—including enclosed spaces, workplaces, public transport, and schools—have an obligation to ensure that these areas remain smoke-free and to restrict the consumption of tobacco or nicotine products to designated smoking areas.
The consumption of tobacco or nicotine in lodgings, patios, terraces, balconies, amusement parks, places where minors could congregate, and indoor areas is forbidden. Students and teachers are encouraged to monitor and notify the proper authorities if they observe any non-compliance.
In response to the regulations, several business organizations issued a joint press release where they argue that, while they are willing to comply with any regulations that protect health and promote the prevention of tobacco use, these prohibitions are unfounded. The organizations assert that the display of tobacco would not reduce or prevent its consumption. They also say that not being able to display the products and hiding them for sale almost renders a legal substance illegal.
Their statement questions whether the regulations are an abuse of power on the part of Mexico’s Secretariat of Health. They accused the regulations of having unjustified impacts on free trade and consumers’ rights, which would constitute multiple violations of trade agreements.