Last updated: July 29, 2022
Costa Rica became a Party to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on November 19, 2008.
Smoke Free Places
The Tobacco Control Law and its Regulations contain a list of places where smoking is prohibited. This is an extensive list that includes all indoor workplaces and all public transport and virtually all indoor public places. Some outdoor places are also required to be smoke free, including outdoor workplaces; stadiums, arenas and venues with mass concentration of people; gas stations; and ports and public transit stops.
Tobacco Advertising, Promotion and Sponsorship
Almost all tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship are banned. There are two exemptions: 1) in adult-only venues and events that do not have smoke free space; and 2) through direct communication with vendors and adult consumers, conducted face to face and in the home.
Tobacco Packaging and Labeling
Combined picture and text health warnings must occupy 50 percent of the two principal display areas (front and back) of tobacco product packages, placed on the lower portion of the pack, with different warnings on the front and back of the pack. A qualitative warning on constituents and emissions must appear on 100 percent of one lateral side. The authorized warnings must be rotated in such a way that they are distributed evenly across all tobacco product packaging. The Ministry of Health must update the authorized warnings annually. The contents of the warnings pertain to smoked tobacco products only, even though the law requires all tobacco product packaging to contain health warnings. Misleading terms such as “light” and “low” are prohibited on tobacco packaging, but other misleading packaging (e.g., colors, numbers, and symbols) is not prohibited.
Cigarette Contents and Disclosures
The law grants the authority to regulate the contents of cigarettes; however, no subsequent regulations have been issued. The law requires that manufacturers and importers disclose to government authorities information on the contents and emissions of their products.
The law prohibits the sale of tobacco products via vending machine, the internet, and in educational facilities, playgrounds, stadiums, healthcare facilities, cultural facilities, and other specified locations. The law also prohibits the sale of single cigarettes and small packets of cigarettes. The sale of tobacco products is prohibited to persons under the age of 18.
The sale of e-cigarettes is allowed subject to restrictions including location-based sales restrictions, restrictions on vending machine sales, product notification and a minimum sales age. The use of e-cigarettes is prohibited in all indoor public places, indoor workplaces, and means of public transport. The advertising, promotion, and sponsorship of e-cigarettes is generally prohibited. However, there are exceptions for direct industry communication with vendors and adult consumers, and for adult-only venues that do not have smoke free space. Pictorial health warnings must occupy 50% of the two principal display areas (front and back) of tobacco product packages, placed on the lower portion of the pack.
Roadmap to Tobacco Control Legislation
General Law for the Control of Tobacco and its Harmful Effects on Health, Legislative Decree No. 9028 is the main legislation for tobacco control, including e-cigarettes, and regulates, among other things, smoke free places; tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and tobacco packaging and labeling. There are two sets of implementing regulations that were issued under the General Law: 1) Regulation of the General Law for Control of Tobacco and its Harmful Effects on Health, Executive Decree No. 37185, which regulates smoke free places, and tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship; and 2) Regulation for the Labeling of Tobacco Products and Tobacco Derivatives, Executive Decree No. 37778-S, which regulates tobacco product packaging and labeling.
Directive No. 6095 was issued by the Ministry of Health in July 2013 and contains the design, placement, and contents of the first round of six authorized warnings, which are required on all tobacco product packages as of September 2014. Directive No. 4979 was issued in November 2014 and establishes the second round of authorized warnings. Directive No. 4960 was issued in November 2015 and establishes the third round of authorized warnings. Directive No. 4482 was issued in September 2017 and establishes the fourth round of authorized warnings. Directive MS-DM-JG-6335-2019 was issued in December 2019 and both extends the fourth round of warnings and establishes the fifth round of authorized warnings. Directive MS-DM-JG-7707-2020 was issued in December 2020 and establishes the sixth round of authorized warnings. Directive MS-DM-JG-6584-2021 was issued in December 2021 and contains the seventh round of authorized messages.
Directive DM-JM-3274-2018 was issued in September 2018 to repeal Directive DM-RM-6540-2013, which clarified provisions related to the display of tobacco products and price lists at points of sale. Under Directive DM-JM-3274-2018, the Minister of Health ordered display cabinets to be covered so that tobacco products are not visible at points of sale.
This country’s legal measures were reviewed by our legal staff in consultation with in-country lawyers or tobacco control experts.