Adriana M. Blanco, Intendencia Municipal de Montevideo Servicio de Atencion a la Salud, 18 de julio 1360 3er piso, MOntevideo, 11200, Uruguay
Uruguay had partial restrictions to smoking in public places, allowing smoking rooms but this regulation was never enforced. Based on the WHO FCTC ratification and on the results of the multicentric surveillance of nicotine in public places, in 2004 the Ministry of Health banned smoking in all health facilities, including non-clinical areas and ambulances and other vehicles belonging to the health facility. After the October 2004 Uruguayan presidential election, the political field changed, the elected president, Dr. Tabare Vazquez, an oncologist, made a firm commitment to support tobacco control Since March 2006 a very comprehensive decree banned smoking in all shared closed areas and in all workplace areas. This decree doesn't allow smoking rooms inside closed areas, ashtrays inside, and all places should have posters warnings about the smoking ban. To support this decree there was a very participative campaign called “One million thanks”, launched by the President himself in a national conference; the goal of the campaign was to gather one million thank you notes (by papers, e-mail and free phone lines) symbolically thanking smokers who would no longer smoke in close areas. Ministry of Health assigned all its inspectors (of all areas) to enforce the decree, helped by observers from civil society, and made agreements with other official institutions to assist in enforcement. The fines for private businesses found in non-compliance were very high (almost US$1,100 dollars for the first time). One month later, compliance is very good at over 90%.