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Tobacco Control Legislation in Costa Rica (1971-2012): After 40 Years of Tobacco Industry Dominance, Tobacco Control Advocacy Succeeds

  • Author(s): Crosbie, Eric, MA
  • Sebrie, Ernesto M., MD MPH
  • Glantz, Stanton A., PhD
  • et al.
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License
Abstract

 The tobacco industry successfully blocked or displaced strong tobacco control legislation in Costa Rica for nearly 40 years using similar strategies used in the U.S. and the rest of the world, until the country successfully passed a strong tobacco control law in March 2012. During the 1970s and 1980s, the tobacco companies displaced strong tobacco control legislation on tobacco advertising by endorsing weaker executive decrees. In response to increased tobacco control pressure, the industry successfully weakened the 1995 law by secretly hiring scientific consultants to counter the SHS threat and using the hospitality industry to rollout the Courtesy of Choice program in Costa Rica (then Latin America). Tobacco companies then used Costa Rica as a model to rollout industry youth smoking prevention programs and corporate social responsibility campaigns throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. The industry continued its dominance in Costa Rica during the 2000s by developing a cooperative relationship with the Ministry of Health. Although theNational Anti-Tobacco Network(RENATA), a new coalition ofgovernmental health institutions and nongovernmental tobacco control associationsformed in 2007, generated enough public pressure on Legislative Assembly to ratify the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2008 and secure Bill 17.371’s introduction in 2009 to implement the treaty, the industry once again worked through the Ministry of Health to delay the bill’s passage. However, RENATA’s abilityto alert the media and mobilize a coalition of international health advocates to effectivelyinform lawmakers on the importance of the FCTCbetween 2010 and 2012 helped pass a strong tobacco control law in March 2012. 

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