Brazil Begins ‘Stringent’ Anti-Smoking Push
A pair of Brazilian politicians have helped push through a "blitz of stringent anti-smoking measures" with "unaccustomed speed," making the country a "tougher place to sell tobacco than ... just about anywhere else," the Wall Street Journal reports. Through the work of Jose Serra, Brazil's health minister, and his long-time friend, Jacob Kligerman, a surgeon and head of Brazil's National Cancer Institute, the country has ordered a reduction in cigarettes' tar and nicotine levels; has banned use of the terms "light" and "mild" to refer to cigarettes; and has required that cigarette packs come with one of several "graphic health warnings," including a picture of a premature baby connected to several tubes. The new actions follow "one of the world's most comprehensive bans on cigarette advertising" that began last year, gradually precluding ads anywhere except on the counter where they are sold. Although Brazil is an "unlikely front in the global war against smoking" because it is the world's third-largest tobacco producer and largest leaf exporter, the Journal reports that Serra has been "twisting lawmakers' arms" and ordering executive fiats "where he can," and Kligerman has been "exploiting his medical and social prominence" to "force" legislation. According to the Journal, if Serra and Kligerman "continue to succeed in their campaign," Brazil could become a model for other developing nations to follow. However, the Journal reports that the tobacco industry "is fighting back -- with some success." Tobacco companies have "mobilized" the two million mostly small farmers that depend on the tobacco crops and cut prices on cigarettes in lieu of advertising (Karp, Wall Street Journal, 1/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.