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Honduras Bans Public (and Private) Smoking

Man, when will the smoking bans stop? The government of Honduras, of all places, just passed a law that makes it illegal to smoke in almost all public places (schools, gas stations, night clubs, restaurants, bars, buses, taxis, stadiums, and cultural centers). While it doesn’t explicitly ban smoking at home, the law allows family members and visitors to call the police and report smokers in private places and family homes. And we thought we had it bad in New York.

First time violators will face a verbal warning and repeat offenders will be slapped with a $311 fine—the equivalent of one month’s salary on Honduran minimum wage. Considering that Honduras’ violent crime rate is one of the highest in the world, I don’t see how the police are going to be able to enforce this legislation. But given the stories I’ve heard about them, I bet the police will see the law as one more opportunity to extort money out of unsuspecting tourists.

That leads me to my big question—what the hell is Honduras doing worrying about the dangers of secondhand smoke when their murder rate per 100,000 is one of the highest in the world (the second highest two years ago)? The cops should be worrying about curbing their astronomical violent crime rate, especially in the wake of the recent protests against violent crime.

But back to the ban—could you imagine if you invited someone into your home, and they called the police on you for smoking in the same room as them? Let me tell you, that guy wouldn’t be invited into my house again.

I have mixed feelings about the fact that they probably won’t be able to enforce this ban. On the one hand, it’s pretty cool that this imposing law probably won’t actually affect anybody. On the other hand, though, enforcing it might indicate that they’ve actually dealt with the nation’s real problems.