Uruguay is unlikely world leader in anti-smoking efforts

March 25, 2011

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(Getty Images/Marty Melville)
An oncologist by trade, former president Dr. Tabare Vazquez strengthened Uruguay's anti-smoking laws.

Ten years ago, Uruguay had some of the highest cigarette-smoking rates in Latin America.

But Uruguay's efforts in the last five years to curb smoking have been so successful that the small South American nation is embroiled in a lawsuit with tobacco giant Philip Morris International.

We’ll talk with Dr. Eduardo Bianco, a cardiologist and the director of the Tobacco Epidemic Research Center in Uruguay, about the lawsuit and his country's anti-tobacco laws, which are some of the strictest in the world. 

Also, the Chinese government is the world's largest cigarette manufacturer.

As part of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, it's also begun implementing anti-smoking measures, including banning cigarette vending machines. But those measures face an uphill battle because, as WAMU's Rachel Louise Snyder discovered in her segment, The Global Guru, cigarettes in China are more than just an addictive habit.

The Global Guru is produced in association with American University's College of Arts and Sciences and WAMU. We got it from the Public Radio Exchange.