When Tabaré Vázquez, the current Uruguayan president and an experienced oncologist, began his first term as president in 2005, his anti-tobacco campaign was one of his core concerns:
In 2006, Uruguay was the fifth country worldwide to ban tobacco from all enclosed public areas. But beside that, Vázquez´ government passed a law prohibiting tobacco brands from commercializing sub-brands such as ¨light¨, ¨mint¨ etc. that suggested some cigarettes might be ¨healthier¨ or less damaging than others. Also, since 2009, 80% of each cigarette box has to be covered with - very explicit - anti-smoking pictures and health warnings.
The implemented measures appear to have been effective: According tothe Uruguayan Ministry of Public Health, the percentage of smokers in Uruguay has dropped from 35% in 2005 to less than 22% in 2014. Also the percentage of young smokers, older than 15, dropped from 22,8% in 2006 to 8.4% in 2014.
However, in 2010, Philip Morris, one of the biggest tobacco companies worldwide, sued Uruguay for 25 million US-Dollars claiming the strict anti-tobacco legislation caused the Swiss-based company profit-damages and violated a bilateral trade agreement signed with Switzerland in 1988.
On July 8th 2016 the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) decided in favor of Uruguay: Philip Morris now has to pay 7 million USD in legal fees to the Uruguayan State.
President Tabaré Vázquez reacted to the decision saying (freely translated):