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The Tobacco Epidemic

Nearly 11 million Mexicans—16% of the population over 15 years old—smoke. One in every four men and one in every thirteen women smoke tobacco. Roughly 47,000 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 $5.7 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


The Union was instrumental in the establishment of Mexico City DRC as a smokefree city. The Mexico City Government and Ministry of Health honoured the work of The Union Mexico Office for their role in this process.

The Union provides legal and technical assistance for legislative development in tobacco control in Mexico. The Union supported the National Office for Tobacco Control during the amendment process to eliminate allowances for designated smoking areas from the national legislation in 2011.

Cozumel, the largest island in the Mexican Caribbean, and Nuevo León, the second largest State in Mexico, both passed 100% smokefree legislation in 2013. With the addition of Jalisco and Baja California declaring their states smokefree, 2013 saw Mexico protect an additional 15.1 million people from the effects of second-hand smoke.

In 2014, ten states in the south eastern region of Mexico drafted comprehensive smoke-free legislation. The Union has employed a unique multi-site joint endeavour to up-scale smoke-free legislation across Mexico. This initiative resulted in the local Congress of Oaxaca State approving the smoke-free law which comes into effect in 2015.

Continuing Work

The Union works with the National Office for Tobacco Control and the National Institute of Public Health to develop and evaluate the effectiveness of graphic health warnings for tobacco products. Four rounds of warnings had been implemented in Mexico since 2010.

Useful links


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The Tobacco Control Department is based at The Union Europe Office, Edinburgh, registered charity no. SC039880
ⓒ Copyright 2015 The Union