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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Cigar king Cuba prohibits smoking indoors

 Fidel Castro, former smoker
 (The Spokesman-Review)
Associated Press

HAVANA – Despite its reputation as a producer of fine cigars, Cuba is preparing to ask smokers to step outside before lighting up.

Beginning on Feb. 7, smoking will be prohibited in theaters, stores, buses, taxis and other enclosed public areas under a new resolution published in Cuba’s National Gazette by the Commerce Ministry.

Smoking will also be banned in indoor restaurants except in designated smoking areas. Cigarette machines will be taken down. There was no word if smoking would be allowed in bars.

The resolution said the move was “taking into account the damage to human health caused by the consumption of cigarettes and cigars, with the objective of contributing to a change in the attitudes of our population.”

Tolerance for the habit has been slowly waning and even President Fidel Castro gave up smoking cigars years ago. At the same time, the cigar exports continue to play a key economic role, generating $200 million annually.

Castro once joked about giving away boxes of cigars. “But the best thing to do is give them to your enemy.”

The resolution will also suspend sales of cigarettes to children under age 16 and at stores less than 100 yards from schools.

According to government statistics, four of every 10 Cubans smoke, and 30 percent of the 15,000 deaths from preventable cancers each year can be linked to smoking.