Objective To describe the process of approval and implementation of a comprehensive smoke-free law in the province of Santa Fe, Argentina, between 2005 and 2009.
Methods Review of the Santa Fe smoke-free legislation, articles published in local newspapers and documentation on two lawsuits filed against the law, and interviews with key individuals in Santa Fe.
Results Efforts to implement smoke-free policies in Santa Fe began during the 1990s without success, and resumed in 2005 when the provincial Legislature approved the first 100% smoke-free subnational law in Argentina. There was no strong opposition during the discussions within the legislature. As in other parts of the world, pro-tobacco industry interests attempted to block the implementation of the law using well known strategies. These efforts included a controversy media campaign set up, the creation of a hospitality industry association and a virtual smokers' rights group, the introduction of a counterproposal seeking modification of the law, the challenge of the law in the Supreme Court, and the proposal of a weak national bill that would ‘conflict’ with the subnational law. Tobacco control advocates sought media attention as a strategy to protect the law.
Conclusions Santa Fe is the first subnational jurisdiction in Latin America to have enacted a comprehensive smoke-free policy following the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. After 3 years of implementation, pro-tobacco industry forces failed to undermine the law. Other subnational jurisdictions in Argentina, as well as in Mexico and Brazil are following the Santa Fe example.
- Latin America
- public policy
- secondhand tobacco smoke
- tobacco control legislation
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Funding This research was funded by National Cancer Institute Grants CA-87472 and the Roswell Park Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Center (TTURC–P50 CA111236). The National Cancer Institute played no role in the conduct of the research or preparation of the manuscript. Partial support was also provided by the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute (FAMRI) and the American Cancer Society (ACS) through the 13th WCTOH Tobacco Control Fellows Seed Grants.
Competing interests None.
Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the University of California San Francisco.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.