The government does not accept, support or endorse offers of assistance from the tobacco industry in setting or implementing public health policies. The Ministry of Health, who leads in the regulation of tobacco control, has managed to resist the tobacco industry’s efforts to weaken marketing regulation and advertising.
However, the incorporation of representatives from tobacco companies into the Mixed Commission Against Illicit Trade, an inter-ministerial body that was created to fight against smuggling in general, may provide opportunities to further industry-initiated anti-smuggling campaigns and lobby to undermine the advances in the regulation and control of tobacco in the country.
The assistance or support of government representatives (executive or local) positions tobacco companies as a benevolent industry, associating the authority and credibility of the authorities with the community or the media. For example, the Vice Minister of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security was a panel speaker at a Philip Morris International (PMI)-sponsored forum by the Costa Rica-American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) on gender equality and women’s labor.
The special treatment by the Executive and Legislative Power towards the tobacco industry was documented by protecting it during a tax reform where the sales tax (VAT) calculation excludes tobacco.
International travelers entering Costa Rica can bring in duty-free 400 sticks of cigarettes, 50 cigars or 500g of tobacco.
The interaction of the tobacco industry through its representatives was documented, both in social events and technical assistance in training on smuggling issues, such as donations to government agencies dedicated to fiscal issues.
It was documented that the government does not have established mechanisms to hold its officials accountable for the interactions and meetings they have with the tobacco industry. Pressures from the tobacco industry regarding the regulation of cigarette advertising on the presidency and ministries were documented. The lack of transparency opens up opportunities for the industry to lobby for postponement of the directive on the pack display ban and the exemption of sales tax for tobacco. But the interaction of representatives of the industry with the Minister of Health, who is attached to the provisions of Article 5.3 of the FCTC, also makes the National Anti-Smoking Network participate as an observer.
No evidence of tobacco industry interference events related to the conflict of interest was found.
The Costa Rican government does not have a mechanism to prevent tobacco industry interference in tobacco control policies. There are no official mechanisms for accountability for meetings and lobbying, no code of conduct with established standards or procedure for interacting with the tobacco industry, no programs to educate on the FCTC in government agencies and no policy for the rejection or prohibition of acceptance of any contribution or gift from the tobacco industry or its representatives. The implementation of corrective actions on these four aspects would strengthen the performance of government agencies in the field of tobacco control and reduce interference from the tobacco industry.
- Create a code of conduct with minimum standards for the interaction of government officials with the tobacco industry in accordance with the provisions of Article 5.3 of the FCTC and its guidelines.
- Have a National Plan for Tobacco Control with intersectoral and civic society participation, which considers within the strategic actions the promotion and (or) awareness-raising directed at all public powers on the FCTC and Article 5.3.
- Establish a transparent official mechanism to record the interactions that government representatives have with the tobacco industry, in accordance with the provisions of Article 5.3 of the FCTC and its guidelines.
- Establish a policy to reject acceptance of any form of contribution or gift from the tobacco industry.
- Include in the strategic actions of the Observatory Surveillance and Intervention Strategies Health for compliance with Law No. 9028 (OVEIS) monitoring actions on implementing the tobacco industry to the detriment of Article 5.3.
Learn more about tobacco industry interference in this country.Download a Country Fact Sheet