- The ban on smoking in public places is about protecting the nation’s health
- The fines are in line with the Ministry’s authorization under the Public Health Act
- The pro-health position taken by the Ministry will reduce tobacco related deaths
Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says the ban on smoking in public places, with the attendant fines, is not about seeking additional revenue, but rather to protect the nation’s health.
Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ recently, Dr. Ferguson said that implementation of the Public Health (Tobacco Control) Regulations 2013 will focus on increasing awareness among the public, of the dangers of tobacco smoking.
“This [tobacco regulation] is not about trying to get more money into the hands of government. This is about protecting the health of the nation, and getting people to become more aware of the dangers,” the Minister said.
“I am not just about anti-tobacco; my position is a pro-health in relation to the industry,” he emphasized.
The Minister said it is important to stay focused on the purpose of the policy. “This policy initiative is about how we can get this information out, over the next eight months in a concentrated way,” he added.
Meanwhile, Legal Officer at the Ministry of Health, Sheryl Dennis, made it clear that the fines are in line with the Ministry’s authorization under the Public Health Act.
“The regulations will encourage compliance, as persons would take the necessary steps to avoid accountability,” Ms. Dennis explained.
For her part, Executive Director of the Heart Foundation, Deborah Chen, emphasized that the pro-health position taken by the Ministry will reduce tobacco related problems and deaths.
“What the Ministry of Health and Jamaica Coalition are doing is trying to prevent persons from paying high health care costs,” Ms. Chen said.
She further asserts that the decision to ban smoking in public places is a bold move in the right direction.