Colombians are not allowed to smoke in public places anymore. The Ministry of Social Protection announced that bars, discos, restaurants, theaters, universities, bus terminals and other public places must follow the norms that forbid the use of cigarettes. The owners of public places are ordered not to attend persons who smoke and can call the police if the smoker refuses to turn off the cigarette, said Carlos Ignacio Cuervo, Vice Minister of social protection. Smokers can do it in open places like streets, but public places are not allowed to have smoking areas. The authorities prepare campaigns in the means of communication to create conscience about the norm and the benefits of it for the public health.
Places that allow smokers can be fined by the authorities or their places can be closed even definitely, said the norm. According with the health organizations of Colombia, more than 5 million persons died in the country every year by sickness related to smoking.
Camilo Ospina, the president of the Association of Bars of Bogotá (Asobares), said to Caracol Broadcasting that the norm can be traumatic for the first six months, as in other countries it has been, but after it would become natural. Other business organizations in the country were rather positive toward the norm, but asked more clarifications, especially about what it means with open places.
The Colombian Association of Gastronomy was promoting the creation of open spaces in restaurants for smokers, but they will consult to the authorities if this plan will not confront the norm, said its president, Gustavo Adolfo Toro. The sellings will not be affected, said Toro, because restaurants were already adapting to it.