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Tobacco Control in Mexico

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The Tobacco Epidemic

Nearly 14 million Mexicans—17% of the population over 15 years old—smoke. One in every four men and one in every thirteen women smoke tobacco. Roughly 51,500 Mexicans die each year from tobacco-related diseases, comprising 10% of all deaths. Approximately 20% of adults are exposed to second-hand smoke in their workplace and 17% of adults are exposed to second-hand smoke in their home.

The tobacco epidemic also costs Mexico $8 billion USD in the treatment of tobacco related illnesses each year.

Policies in Place

Mexico became party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2005.
The primary national tobacco control laws are the General Law on Tobacco Control (2008) and the Regulations of the General Law on Tobacco Control (2009). These national laws:

  • Prohibit smoking indoors in primary and secondary schools and in federal government facilities. All other "places with public access" and workplaces may provide designated smoking areas.
  • Ban most forms of TAPS, but advertising and promotion are allowed if they are targeted exclusively at adults, e.g. in adult magazines or within adult-only establishments.
  • Require pictorial and text health warnings on at least 30% of the front, 100% of the back, and 100% of one side of smoked tobacco product packaging. Text warnings are required on 100% of one side of smokeless tobacco products. Misleading packaging and labelling are prohibited.
  • Allow sub-national regulations that are stricter than the national law.

The Union's achievements

In 2019, the state provinces of Chiapas and Aguascalientes in Mexico became the 12th and 13th respectively to approve a smoke-free environments policy. With support from The Union, these state provinces used the latest science-based evidence to gain the approval of new tobacco control policies, which include a ban on electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS). With these policies 51% of Mexicans are protected against the risks of second-hand tobacco smoke.

The Mexico parliament approved the executive´s budget proposal for 2020, which includes a yearly update in line with the inflation rate for tobacco taxes. The Union provided support to the Mexican executive branch in collaboration with grantees and partners under the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use.

As a result, three government ministries were awarded with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) prize for World No Tobacco Day, in recognition of the country’s recent decisions to increase tobacco tax and to ban the import of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products (HTPs).

Research conducted by the National Institute of Public Health (INSP) with support from The Union’s grantee CONADIC (National Council against Addictions) has resulted new ways to measure the effects of other tobacco control policies in Mexico. Similarly, research conducted by INSP helps with attributing health burden from tobacco use. These studies were released in a great effort through infographics for the 32 states of the country.

A high-level meeting and workshop for different government agencies was co-organised by The Union Mexico Office in collaboration with CONADIC, and the Pan American Health Organization on the WHO FCTC.

With advice from The Union, the Ministry of Health in Mexico announced in 2019 the preparatory steps for the establishment of a national coordination mechanism in line with WHO FCTC Art 5.2.

All achievements were supported by The Union under the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use Grants Program. 

Continuing Work

In Mexico, The Union will continue working along with the National Office for Tobacco Control (CONADIC), the National Institute of Public Health (INSP), Universities and NGO´s, at local, sub-national and federal levels, identifying effective procedures to promote and protect tobacco control policies from industry interference, and supporting a tax increase and tobacco control sustainability policies, smoke-free environment policies, the ban of all forms of TAPS, and plain packaging, among other policies related to fully implement the  WHO FCTC.

Useful links

Tobacco control laws – Mexico

Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) – Mexico

Economics of Tobacco and Tobacco Taxation in Mexico

Tobacco laws - in Spanish