Honduras: Tobacco Law In Honduras In Force Since February 2011

Last Updated: 24 October 2011
Article by Guadalupe Martinez Casas

International Business Development at CENTRAL LAW (Honduras)

The comprehensive Tobacco Control Law is effective in Honduras since February 21st 2011. This law is based on the framework convention for tobacco control of the World Health Organization which the country ratified in 2004 with other 171 nations.

In Latin America, Honduras joins Peru, Colombia, Uruguay, Panama, Mexico, Guatemala, Buenos Aires, nine Argentinean provinces, and seven Brazilian states in having strong smoke-free laws and policies. Honduras also has one of the strongest policies on pictorial warning labels in the region, along with Uruguay.

The law aims to reduce and gradually eliminate the tobacco consume in order to grant people´s health right especially to women and children which are more exposed to the risks derived from the tobacco -active or passive- consume.

The new legislation ´s objective is to regulate the production, distribution, trade, import, consume, publicity, promotion and sponsorship related to tobacco products.

It specifically prohibits smoking in public or private closed places. Offenders are subject to fines: to the smoker (an equivalent fine to a daily payment of a minimum salary. This is almost US$300 per day) ; to the owner of a store ( an equivalent fine to a monthly payment of two minimum salaries. This is almost US$600 per month) and to the owner of a public or private transport (an equivalent fine to one minimum salary).

It is also prohibited to smoke in public or private open spaces in less than 2 meters from people.

Restaurants won´t have anymore the smoking areas since they become a non smoking area with the new law.

The stores that don´t comply with the law are exposed to their trade license cancellation whenever they are second offenders.

Only the authorized sale stores can sell tobacco and must be attended by workers older than 21 years old. Expending machines are banned and also the tobacco internet sales are prohibited.

The sanction will go from 10 monthly minimum salaries for the first time and second time will be punished with 20 monthly minimum salaries plus the closing of the store for 30 days.

Tobacco cannot be sold in the health centers, educational institutes or universities, libraries, museums and sport facilities.

The sale of tobacco is only allowed to 21 years old persons. Stores must advertise this with a label. Also tobacco products cannot be at the reach of the final consumer, it must be delivered by the seller. Cigars cannot be sold per unit or in packages less than 10 cigarettes.

The law also bans the manufacturing, import, sale and free distribution of candies, toys and other objects that have the shape of tobacco products and are of the attraction of persons under 21 years old.

People under 21 years old cannot sell or buy tobacco and they cannot be in the places where smoking is allowed.

The sanction for the employment of minors and for letting them enter the places where smoking is allowed will be respectfully of 50 monthly minimum salaries plus confiscation and product destruction and of 10 monthly minimum salaries without detriment of the criminal liability that may apply.

The Honduran Institute for the prevention of alcoholism and drugs (In Spanish, IHADFA) is compelled to propose and review the images and texts that the manufacturer will show in the packages under his own liability.

The law prohibits the false and misleading information in the packages. It cannot be said to consumers that one kind of cigarettes are less dangerous than other kind of cigarettes so the label stating "containing low tar", "light", "ultra light" or "soft " is strictly prohibited.
The 80% of both sides of the package must contain messages and images about the tobacco harmful effects. The information regarding the components of the cigarette must be set at both sides of the box.

In terms of advertisement the packages are only allowed to include the manufacturer information, distributor, trademark, company or brand logotype, kind of product, its components and health warning in the text, graphics, images that refer to the harmful effects of the active or passive tobacco consume.

The law prohibits the use of trade identification elements associated, combined or related to healthy persons.

It prohibits all kind of advertisement, broadcast, television, written press, billboards, for the tobacco and its products, also the sponsorships related to minors.

The sanction for non allowed advertising and for misleading information will be of 100 minimum salaries plus the confiscation and destruction of the product.

The tobacco industry must take away or suspend any kind of advertisement, sponsorship, promotion, or trade identification that does not comply with the law in 90 days.

Regarding sales in free zones the law prohibits the sales, distribution and trade of tobacco products.

The illegal traffic of tobacco is also banned and the law states that it will be punished by the current criminal code.

People can denounce the law offenders to police authority and they can also denounce people that throw lighted cigarette ends or cigarettes.

The law also entitles any person to sue the tobacco industry for the damages caused by tobacco to the population´s health in general or to one individual derived from the tobacco products in an active or passive way when the tobacco industry had inserted false or incomplete information or had skipped or hidden information regarding the effects and consequences derived from the tobacco consume.-

** Published in Diario Tiempo, February 25th, 2011

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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