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Some commentators have suggested that the first place Christopher Columbus saw a tobacco leaf being smoked was on the island of Cuba. If this was in fact the case, it is more than a bit ironic that some of the world's most restrictive sanctions on smoking took affect there this week. Starting this week, there is no smoking allowed in enclosed public buildings, no cigarettes may be sold within 100 meters of schools, and all cigarette machines have been banned from the country. Of course, most Cubans are used to having heavy amounts of government involvement in their lives, especially when one considers that the state dictates who may buy a car or travel. Fidel Castro says he has not smoked for more than 20 years, and views the policy as a welcome change, though interestingly enough, the country will still continue its policy of subsidizing cigarette sales. The reaction has been mixed within the country so far, and one Cuban remarked this week "Can you imagine living in the best land in the world for cigars and being told you cannot smoke? It's insane."The first link will take visitors to a news piece from the BBC that talks about the reaction to the ban, which took effect this week. The second link takes visitors to a Washington Times article from Tuesday that offers additional insight into this controversial decision. The third link leads to a rather nice commentary on the subject by the noted poet and raconteur, Andrei Codrescu. The fourth link leads to another BBC piece that discusses a recent British government white paper that outlines a comprehensive plan to ban smoking in every cafÃ©, restaurant, and most pubs over the next four years. The fifth link leads to a helpful "scorecard" offered by the Hindustan Times that lets visitors know about recent smoking bans in a number of countries over the past several years. The sixth link leads to the homepage of the University of Wisconsin's Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention, where visitors can learn about the group's various research projects and outreach activities. The final link leads to the homepage of the Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco (FOREST), which seeks to "defend the interests of adults who choose to smoke".
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