JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The tobacco regulations outline places where smoking is prohibited, such as all enclosed places, public transportation, workplaces...
  • The Minister stressed that that the regulations were put in place to protect the country’s workers, non-smokers, the nation’s children and smokers themselves.
  • Statistics show that across the globe, every six seconds, someone dies from a tobacco-related illness;

Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says the Public Health (Tobacco Control) Regulations 2013, which had provisions for the imposition of a ban on smoking in specified public places, is the most far-reaching public health policy in decades.

“I know that what I am doing is good for Jamaica. In the next couple of years, when you see less heart attacks, less strokes, less asthmatics, you’ll begin to understand the glory of these regulations,” the Minister posited.

Dr. Ferguson  was addressing a joint meeting of the Rotary Clubs of Kingston East and Port Royal, and Trafalgar New Heights, at the Eden Gardens Hotel in Kingston on November 18.

In keeping with the Government’s 2013/14 strategic priority focus on human capital development in relation to health care, the ban was imposed on July 15, with the implementation of the Regulations.

The tobacco regulations outline places where smoking is prohibited, such as all enclosed places, public transportation, workplaces, government buildings, health facilities; sport, athletic and recreational facilities for use by the public; educational institutions; areas specifically for use by children, and places of collective use, such as bus stops.

There is also the requirement of the use of large, graphic health warnings on tobacco products, instead of the text only warnings currently used.

The Minister stressed that that the regulations were put in place to protect the country’s workers, non-smokers, the nation’s children and smokers themselves.

“Tobacco, in relation to avoidable deaths, remains one of the greatest threats to public health globally, but is avoidable, and therefore as a country, what we are doing is taking the tough decisions. I posit that the ban on smoking in specified public places is good for Jamaica,” he argued.

The Minister informed however, that he is currently making some adjustments to the regulations, based on letters he has received following the ban.

“We have gotten over 30 letters, we have gotten advice about certain things. What I will not do, is to compromise the health aspect of the regulations, but things like the fine, not to make it without teeth, but that will be reduced; and the question of custodial sentence, that will be removed,”  pointed out.

Dr. Ferguson said he is pleased with the level of support from the public, noting that according to the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA) survey, 83 per cent of Jamaicans supported the regulations, while 97 per cent knew of the regulations.

He emphasized that it is important that Jamaicans continue to support the ban, as the Government works to protect the health of citizens, particularly in relation to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), of which tobacco smoking is a “most critical risk factor.”

Citing statistics, the Minister noted that six million persons die annually across the globe from tobacco smoking, and 600,000 of that number die from second-hand smoking.

Statistics also show that across the globe, every six seconds, someone dies from a tobacco-related illness; one in 10 adults dies every year because of tobacco; and nearly 80 per cent of the world’s one billion smokers live in low and middle income countries like Jamaica.