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No smoking, sí; more fines, no gracias.

October 16, 2007 | 11:04 am

Since taking office in December, the leftist government of Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard has taken up several issues meant to improve the quality of life in this overcrowded city. The city, together with the government of the neighboring state of Mexico, rewrote its traffic code earlier this year, imposing new fines for violations and a point system that will deprive repeat offenders of their licenses. And the city will soon being issuing driver's licenses with actual expiration dates (the current licenses are issued for life).  The new traffic code is widely seen here as a well-intentioned effort that will only serve to increase the bribes paid to police officers. And now a tough new anti-smoking ordinance is being greeted with skepticism too, as shown by a new study by the respected polling firm of Maria de las Heras. The Las Heras poll for the newspaper Milenio found that 70% of respondents felt that the new law, which requires restaurants to establish nonsmoking areas separated by a wall from smoking areas, was "just a pretext so that [city] inspectors can ask for more bribes." Smokers made up only 22% of the respondents.

Posted by Héctor Tobar in Mexico City