Objectives: To document the response of the tobacco industry to the regulation of smoking in public places in Brazil starting in 1996.
Methods: The Legacy Tobacco Documents Library (legacy.library.ucsf.edu/) and the British American Tobacco (BAT) Company Documents (bat.library.ucsf.edu/) were searched. The following key words were used: Brasil/Brazil; Souza Cruz; fumo passivo, tabagismo passivo/passive smoking; fumo de segunda mão/secondhand smoking; convivência em harmonia/courtesy of choice; along with the names of institutions, politicians, and individuals associated with tobacco control. We also searched the websites of cigarette manufacturers and hospitality industry organizations and businesses, news websites, and online newspapers and magazines. The search was limited to the period from 1995 to 2005.
Results: The text of the first law restricting smoking in Brazil (no. 9 294, of 1996) benefited the industry by stating that smokers and nonsmokers could share the same space provided that specific areas were designated as smoking and nonsmoking. As in other countries, the tobacco industry established partnerships with hotel, bar, and restaurant associations to prevent the passing of laws creating 100% smoke-free environments, as recommended by the World Health Organization. However, local state and city laws in major cities and states (such as Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo) have been successful in ensuring the creation of 100% smoke-free places.
Conclusions: It is essential that Brazil recognize the damage caused by smoking and revise its federal law regulating smoking in closed environments. The knowledge concerning the strategies employed by the industry may be useful for politicians and health care professionals to prepare arguments opposing measures that can be detrimental to public health.