Rejection of smoking rooms makes municipal ordinance stronger than federal law

On 26 February 2008, the Legislative Assembly of Mexico DF (Federal District), also known as Mexico City, passed a law – La Ley de Protección a la Salud de los No Fumadores (the Law for the Protection of the Health of Non-Smokers) requiring all indoor workplaces and public places in the city to be smoke-free. The law protects workers, clients and customers from exposure to second-hand smoke. Mexico DF’s smoke-free law has few exemptions and its rejection of smoking rooms sets it apart from the national law.

The law requires all enclosed public places and workplaces to be 100% smoke-free including offices, commercial establishments - such as shops, restaurants and bars - industries and enterprises, and public transportation. Hotels and similar businesses may have 25 % of their space as smoking areas. However, these spaces have to meet certain conditions relating to ventilation and air circulation.

Fact file: Mexico City, Mexico

Population: 8.8m

Males: 36% Females: 13%

Key actions

The process of developing and implementing the smoke-free law in Mexico DF was driven by strong and determined political leadership and supported by a cohesive coalition of informed and committed tobacco control advocates. It benefited from well-funded and co-ordinated promotional and publicity campaigns. Key actions included:

  • Political champions arguing for, steering and protecting the integrity of a 100% smoke-free law through the legislative process.
  • Civil society support providing advice and guidance together with promoting the smoke-free agenda in the media.
  • A series of mass media and information campaigns to promote, support and reinforce the law.
  • Utilizing existing research and conducting new studies to help build the case for comprehensive smoke-free laws and to meet the immediate needs of the campaign.


  • Reduced exposure to second-hand smoke.
  • High levels and increasing public support for smoke-free places together with increased awareness of the dangers of second-hand smoke.
  • No negative effect on the income of or employment in restaurants, nightclubs, bars or canteens in the city.
  • A positive influence on other cities and states considering smoke-free laws and on tobacco control at the national level.

Lessons learnt

  • The importance of key politicians and senior civil servants willing and able to steer a smoke-free law through the legislative process and to engage with a high profile media debate.
  • The benefit of framing the debate in “positive terms” that emphasise protecting workers and non-smokers from tobacco smoke and bringing about smoke-free places, rather than using negative terminology such as “banning smoking”.
  • The value of research to inform and support smoke-free campaigns and to counter opposition to them.
  • The value of having coherent campaigns to inform and reassure workplaces and the public about the reasons for the law, what the law means for them, and how it will work in practice.
Ministry of Health Mexico City