Cuba joins global efforts to stub out smoking in public

Last week, Cuba became the latest country to ban smoking in public places and workplaces.

Cubans now have to stub out their cigarettes and cigars in offices, shops, cinemas, theatres, public transport, sports facilities and all air-conditioned buildings. And restaurants and clubs will have to cordon off smoking areas as part of a government attempt to change attitudes to health.

Nearly half of all Cuban adults are smokers, but president Fidel Castro – once fond of a cigar himself – gave up smoking nearly 20 years ago.

But Cuba is just the latest in a growing list of countries to attempt to kick the habit. Personnel Today rounds up workplace smoking policies around the world.

United States

Seven US states have passed smoke-free workplace legislation for all employees including office, restaurant, bar, club and casino workers. They are: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island.

Nine other states are likely to join them this year – Minnesota, Maryland, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, New Jersey, Vermont, Pennsylvania and Utah.

Ten years after California introduced a state-wide smoking ban, research from the Department of Health Services shows that the legislation has had a major impact on smoking behaviour and cessation efforts, and 90% of Californians support it.


Smoking levels are among the lowest in the world here. In October last year, the provinces of New Brunswick and Manitoba went smoke-free with the province of Saskatchewan following in January. The territories of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories went smoke-free last May. Many Canadian cities in other provinces have also enacted smoke-free workplace laws.

The Quebec district government plans to introduce legislation this spring. The Ontario district government has also unveiled its plans to eliminate smoking in all workplaces. Toronto, its capital city, currently limits tobacco use in bars and restaurants to designated enclosed smoking rooms. However, the new provincial law will eliminate those rooms, and takes effect in May 2006.

South America

Brazil has enacted legislation including a ban on smoking on public transport and some restrictions in workplaces and public places. Most other countries have few restrictions on smoking.


In Jakarta smoking in workplaces will be eliminated sometime in the next year. Smoking would only be allowed in outdoor areas away from building entrances.


EU health commissioner Marcos Kyprianou said recently he would like to see tougher restrictions on smoking across the European Union, but also confessed that he lacked the powers to introduce them. Kyprianou said he “completely backed” bans on smoking in all enclosed public places.


Last month, Italy implemented smoke-free legislation for all workplaces, including restaurant and bars.

Getting people not to smoke in a country where around a quarter of the population does has been a major headache for the health ministry. It pushed the law through more than a year ago, and gave businesses 12 months to comply.

The new law eliminates smoking in indoor spaces, including offices, unless they have a separate smoking area with continuous floor-to-ceiling walls and a separate ventilation system. Restaurateurs risk fines of up to 2,000 euros (£1,370) and the loss of their licence if they do not enforce the law.


Ireland imposed tough anti-smoking legislation in March 2004, banning smoking in pubs, restaurants and other enclosed workplaces. Anyone caught smoking in a prohibited location now faces a fine of up to 3,000 euros (£2,000).


After resisting calls to ban smoking in the workplace, instead opting for a voluntary approach from employers, the government has shifted its position. It now favours a ban for almost all enclosed public areas including offices, factories, cafes, restaurants and most pubs in England by 2008. Last week, owners of restaurants, theatres, private clubs and pubs lodged formal objections against two Bills that would prohibit smoking in all workplaces in London and Liverpool.

The committee of the Welsh Assembly is considering a ban on smoking in public places and will report by the end of May.
Scotland plans to have a comprehensive ban on smoking in public places in force by the spring of 2006.


Smoking was banned on Manly, one of the most famous stretches of surfing beach, in May 2004. Bondi Beach is reported to be considering following suit. Smoking is banned in all airports, government offices, health clinics and workplaces. A complete ban in all enclosed places is expected to be in place by the end of 2006.

Rest of the world

The following countries have banned smoking in most public and workplaces, with varying degrees of success. India, Bhutan, Germany, Iran, Finland, Monte-negro, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden (from July), Tanzania and Uganda.

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