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Smoke-free Mexico

Tragicomedy:  Jeff and Lupita marry to make Mexico smoke free

The costumed comic characters Jeff and Lupita circulated through the World Congress of Cardiology and Cardiovascular Health, soliciting signatures for a petition on smokefree Mexico and inviting people to their wedding ceremony on Monday.  The ceremony filled the arena of the WHF booth; after taking their vows, the couple danced until Lupita collapsed from a heart attack. Luckily there were plenty of cardiologists around to resuscitate her.

The skit was part of the WCC legacy project designed to make the congress have a lasting impact on the health of its host country. Organized by WHF with the InterAmerican Heart Foundation and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the project used the WCC as a platform to support the local campaign for a national Smokefree law (#LibredeHumo)

 Jeff the Diseased Lung, first introduced in 2015 by the American comedian John Oliver in a scathing television commentary on Philip Morris’s legal attacks on Uruguayan tobacco control measures, is a parody of the Marlboro Man. With a limp cigarette hanging from his lips and a cowboy hat on his head, Jeff replaces the association between smoking and machismo independence with the association between smoking and lung disease.  He has been used to attract the attention of press and public to several campaigns around the world, including a rally organized in New York at the time of the Philip Morris shareholders’ meeting.  

Making her debut at the World Congress of Cardiology in Mexico, Lupita was designed by Mexican health advocates to draw attention to the cardiovascular effects of secondhand smoke.   “Lupita does not smoke, but she is still damaged because Jeff does,” said Eduardo Bianco, co-chair of the CVD Roadmap on Tobacco as he presented the project at the closing session of the Congress. “Secondhand smoke is one of the lowest-hanging fruits for reducing premature CVD mortality; we (the cardiovascular community) really need to be at the fore of advocacy for Smokefree policy.”  Pointing to the evidence that far fewer people around the world understand links between heart disease and tobacco than understand those between lung disease and tobacco, he added “Lupita provides a great tool for filling this knowledge gap.”  

Bringing tobacco control experts from around the region to Mexico City during the WCC, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids organized a hearing at the Mexican Congress, which is currently considering revisions to the national tobacco control law.  Although among the first countries in the region to ratify the global tobacco-control treaty (the WHO FCTC), Mexico has fallen well behind its Latin American neighbors in implementing tobacco control law, and has one of the weakest national Smokefree laws in the region.  Presenting the petition with over 400 signatures, including those of many of the world’s top leaders in cardiovascular health, the expert group presented information on the impact of Smokefree policy around the region.  Erick Ochua, of InterAmerican Heart Foundation, adds “Latin Americans love soap operas.  The wedding of Jeff and Lupita picked up on this to get attention to the subject.”

The  #LibredeHumo petition is still circulating, so please promote it online. Pictures of the wedding and the meeting at the National Congress are on the campaign Facebook page. The character of Lupita is available for use around the world (contact Alice Grainger Gasser at alice.graingergasser(at) 





President Tabaré Vázquez of Uruguay WCC 2016

Watch President Tabaré Vázquez'  speech on tobacco at WCC 2016

InterAmerican Heart Foundation

Visit our member's website to watch President Vázquez' announcement of Uruguay's victory on Philip Morris International: