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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 January, 2005, 17:21 GMT
Cigar nation faces smoking curbs
Musician from Cuba's Buena Vista Social Club, Francisco Repilado, smoking a cigar
Cubans will no longer be able to light up freely
Cuba, the world's best known cigar-producing country, has announced a ban on smoking in some public places.

The government said public transport, shops and other closed spaces would become smoke-free in early February.

The ban was designed to curb damage to people's health and contribute to a change in public attitudes, it said.

More than half of Cuban adults are thought to smoke, and 30% of the country's preventable cancer deaths are said to be linked to smoking.

Cuban leader Fidel Castro, once a passionate cigar puffer, gave up the habit in 1986 and has since begun campaigning against smoking.

Cigars still generate $200m annually for the country's economy.

No sale to children

Correspondents say this is the government's biggest attempt so far to change Cuban smoking habits.

The ban extends to theatres, buses, taxis, trains, schools, food preparation areas and sports arenas.

Smoking will be restricted in restaurants, but it is not clear whether any restrictions will apply in bars.

Tobacco products, the sale of which is currently unrestricted, will be banned for children under 16. Shops closer than 100m to schools will be unable to sell the products.

Cigarette vending machines are also apparently set to become obsolete.

Partial or total smoking bans are already in force in several European countries, in the US state of California and in New York city. Several other countries are considering bans.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
What Cubans think of the smoking curbs



SEE ALSO:
Smoking curbs: The global picture
16 Nov 04 |  In Depth
Q&A: Passive smoking
25 Nov 03 |  Medical notes
Cuba's cigar crisis
14 Oct 02 |  Business


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