One of the major concerns surrounding the passing of the Tobacco Control Law (law number 9028), which is now in effect and being implemented, is that it could leave the door open to unprincipled individuals who could take advantage of the new taxation regime applied to cigarette sales. Those opposed to the law argued that it would create a black market and possibly lead to organized crime.
While there have been no reports of irregularities in the sale of tobacco products in Costa Rica, an article by Cesar Blanco appearing in La Prensa Libre indicates that fraudsters are taking advantage of another provision of the law: the mandatory signage that must be on display at certain business establishments where the public is invited to gather, such as bars and restaurants.
According to the Institute on Alcohol and Substance Abuse Affairs (IAFA in Spanish), some individuals who are not associated with the entity have been descending upon unsuspecting business establishments and selling the new “No Smoking” signs and posters approved by the Ministry of Health. The impostors are wearing attire with the logos of the IAFA, and in some cases they are demanding payment for signs already posted.
In an official communique by the IAFA, the institution indicated that none of IAFA’s services come at a cost to businesses or individuals, and that while the agency fully supports the law, it is not engaged in confirming that proper signage is in place at bars or restaurants.
The administrative rules of the Tobacco Control law are still being written and reviewed, but the Ministry of Health advised weeks ago that certain smoking prohibitions should be heeded immediately. A previous article in The Costa Rica Star published the procedures that business owners should take at this time to abide by the new law.