The President of Uruguay, Tabaré Vázquez, met on 27 July with Mirta Molinari, The Union's regional coordinator for tobacco control in Latin America, and representatives from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK) and the Framework Convention Alliance (FCA) to discuss Uruguay's leading role in tobacco control and the country's next steps in this global fight.
Over the past 10 years, Uruguay has implemented one of the strongest and most comprehensive sets of tobacco control measures in the world. This has led to a dramatic drop in tobacco consumption among teenagers and young adults from 30% in 2003 to 13% in 2011; and the country's indoor smoking ban has been linked to a 22% reduction in hospital admissions for acute myocardial infarction. At the same time, Philip Morris has sued Uruguay arguing that the country's anti-smoking legislation harms its trademarks and investments – and the outcome of this litigation is expected to have a profound impact on tobacco control worldwide.
Despite this legal challenge from the tobacco industry, President Vázquez is committed to furthering his country's landmark tobacco control policies in the short to medium term to consolidate Uruguay's gains. He also said he intends to promote regional cooperation to tackle illicit trade and non-communicable diseases in the context of Mercosur, a regional economic bloc comprised of several South American countries. All this falls in line with The Union's current work with the government of Uruguay through a Bloomberg Initiative (BI) grant to develop policy infrastructure.
Gustavo Sóñora, The Union's legal advisor for tobacco control in Latin America; Patricia Sosa, director of Latin American Programs for CTFK; and Eduardo Bianco, regional director for FCA, were also present at the meeting. All three organisations committed their continuing support to the government of Uruguay.