TIJUANA (Border Report) — Mexican tourism officials plan on launching a campaign to educate American tourists about Mexico’s strict new tobacco ban.
The goal is to help people north of the border understand the new changes implemented this year when it comes to smoking in public places.
The new law bans smoking in areas such as hotels, beaches, parks, churches, stadiums and other public spaces. (Smoking has been banned in Mexican restaurants and bars since 2008.)
On Feb. 15, a grace period ended for the new restrictions, giving police officers the authority to begin ticketing and citing people seen smoking in public, including Americans who are being caught off guard not knowing about the public-smoking ban south of the border.
Vaping and E-cigarettes also face new restrictions.
“We’re going to target Southern California since it’s our biggest market,” said Juan Coronado Ruiz, director of Tijuana’s Tourism and Conventions Committee. “It also involves Nevada and Arizona.”
The new requirements in Mexico also prohibit the advertising, marketing and promotion of tobacco products, and stores must keep cigarettes out of public view only to be displayed when customers ask for them.
Businesses face fines of up to $2,000 while individuals can be fined between $50 to $300.
“We’ve been talking about launching a campaign here since we’re a border city focusing on the other side of the border,” said Coronado Ruiz.
Both the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana and the Mexican Consulate in San Diego are involved, Coronado Ruiz said.
“We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback about our plan to notify tourists about the areas where they can’t smoke,” he said.
The Pan American Health Organization estimates there are 16 million smokers in Mexico, where the health ministry believes the public ban will save the lives of about 50,000 citizens per year.
Some are fighting the ban, citing potential business losses.
Oxxo, a large chain of 20,000 convenience stores throughout Mexico, is asking to be exempt from the regulations.
Until a final decision is made, Oxxo stores are being allowed to display tobacco products as it has for many years.
As for the educational campaign, there is no definite date for its launch.