Intended for healthcare professionals


Mexico and the tobacco industry: Response from the Ministry of Health

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 02 March 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:548
  1. Roberto Tapia-Conyer, undersecretary for disease prevention and health promotion (rtapia{at},
  2. Cristóbal Ruíz-Gaytán, technical secretary, National Council against Addictions,
  3. Luis Alfonso Caso-González, commissioner, National Commission for Protection against Health Risks
  1. Ministry of Health of Mexico, Lieja 7, 1st Floor, Colonia Juarez, Mexico City, Mexico 06696
  2. Ministry of Health of Mexico, Lieja 7, 1st Floor, Colonia Juarez, Mexico City, Mexico 06696

    EDITOR—Mexico was the first country in the Americas to ratify the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Since 2001, Mexico has carried out a comprehensive tobacco control policy, which includes:

    • Unprecedented increases in the taxation rates of tobacco products

    • A total ban on tobacco publicity on the radio, television, and internet

    • A substantial increase in the size of the warning label on cigarette packs (50% of one of the largest sides) and

    • Total restriction on smoking in all federal buildings.

    Two articles in the BMJ of 11 February that discuss a tobacco control measure implemented by Mexico's government provide incomplete information and disregard the context in which an agreement between the Ministry of Health of Mexico and the tobacco industry was implemented,1 2 suggesting that, due to the agreement, no additional measures will be taken. This mistaken assessment stems from two major sources of misunderstanding by the authors. Firstly, the agreement was signed after all the anti-tobacco measures outlined above had already been implemented and none of them was reverted. Secondly, the agreement imposed additional obligations on tobacco companies to the ones already passed in law.

    Both articles neglect to inform that the agreement has a limited duration, thus leaving the door open for legislating further tobacco control measures, including tax increases, and exhibit major flaws in the process by which they were produced.

    Mexico believes in international collective action. However, we cannot yield to self appointed judges who, lacking the most fundamental respect for diversity and sensitivity to local realities, question the decisions of a group of respected public health policy makers who are successfully confronting one of the most powerful industries world-wide in search of better health for their population.


    • Competing interests None declared.


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