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  • The ban on smoking in specified public places will remain in force, but with some changes
  • The section of the Regulations, which deals with the labelling of individual cigarettes will be removed
  • The definition of 'public place', 'enclosed space' and 'workplace' will be amended

The ban on smoking in specified public places will remain in force, but with some changes, which will ensure that the Government is acting in line with the spirit of the Regulations, while protecting public health.

This was announced on Tuesday, July 30, by Health Minister, Hon. Dr Fenton Ferguson, in a Statement to the House of Representatives.

The section of the Regulations, which deals with the labelling of individual cigarettes will be removed, and the definition of ‘public place’, ‘enclosed space’ and ‘workplace’ will be amended.

Additionally, the Minister informed that private residence or homes, and private vehicles that are not being used for services, will be excluded from the requirements of public enclosed spaces.

“We will reduce the fines and consider the imposition of non-criminal sanctions,” he told the House. Dr. Ferguson also informed that discussions are ongoing with the tourism industry on how best to implement the Regulations.

He said that the Government is prepared to make these changes, even while it awaits the deliberations of the Parliamentary Review Committee, and the national dialogue, which continues.

The Minister emphasised however, that “we will not compromise the health of the Jamaican people – the ban on smoking in specified public places will remain in place. We will not compromise the health of our children – smoking will not be allowed in areas specifically for use by children.”

He stated also that workers’ health will not be risked, as smoking will still not be allowed in workplaces, such as restaurants, bars and clubs. “If persons choose to smoke, they must make sure that it is done always from the entrance, exit, window and ventilation intake in such establishments,” Dr. Ferguson said.

The Minister reiterated that the Government will not endorse the establishment of smoking rooms in business places.

Dr. Ferguson said that while the Government will not relent on the substantive provisions of the Public Health (Tobacco Control) Regulations (2013), which were tabled in the House today, consultations will continue on how to smoothly implement the Regulations.

The Minister pointed out that an intensive eight-month public education campaign has begun in the print and electronic media, and that a Task Force/Tobacco Control Command Centre has been set up.

This will allow the public to get information and clarification on matters concerning the tobacco regulations and the effects of tobacco on health. The Minister said groups may also contact the Ministry for presentations to their members, and assistance in understanding the regulations.

Tobacco hotlines have been established (537-6885, 967-0306) and e-mails may be sent to: huttonv@moh.gov.jm, or adraianb@serha.gov.jm.

An August 13 deadline has also been set for written submissions to the Ministry on the implementation process.

The Minister stressed that public education will focus on parents, guardians and householders to voluntarily stop smoking in their homes and private vehicles, especially where children are concerned.

Counselling is available for persons who wish to stop smoking, through the National Council on Drug Abuse, the Jamaica Tobacco Coalition, the Heart Foundation of Jamaica, and the Jamaica Cancer Society.

Reiterating the cost and effects of smoking on the country, the Health Minister pointed out that according to a World Health Organisation  2013 report, tobacco smoking causes half a trillion dollars in economic damage annually, creating a major challenge for developing countries such as Jamaica.