Persons who smoke could find themselves facing fines of up to $500,000 and or imprisonment for breaching the ban on lighting up in public places.
Speaking on Wednesday, June 26, at a post-Sectoral Debate press briefing at Jamaica House, Legal Officer in the Ministry of Health, Cheryl Dennis, said persons may be fined $50,000 or three months imprisonment, on conviction for a first offence under Section 18 of the Public Health (Tobacco Control) Regulations (2013).
A second offence will attract a fine of $500,000 or six months imprisonment, while a third offence will result in automatic sentencing. Both fines and sentences may be imposed at the discretion of a Resident Magistrate.
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Meanwhile, proprietors, managers, and lessees of premises, which are defined as public places under the regulations, are also liable for breaches of the regulations.
“Owners and lessees and managers of certain premises – where they have acquiesced or have allowed these breaches to happen – will be held liable, and therefore an onus is on owners, managers, proprietors and lessees to ensure that there is no breach,” she stated.
The Legal Officer was part of a team who joined Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, at the briefing, where he expounded on the provisions of the ban, which he announced in his 2013/14 Sectoral Debate presentation in the House of Representatives on June 25.
[RELATED: No Smoking in Public Places as of July 15]
Under the Regulations, smoking or holding a lit electronic tobacco or tobacco product is prohibited in public places, workplaces, public transportation, all government-owned or occupied buildings, health facilities (including pharmacies), sport, athletic and recreational facilities (for the use of the public), educational institutions, bus stops, and areas specifically used by children.
Minister Ferguson told the House that the Government spends more than US$170 million annually to treat non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Smoking contributes to, and adversely affects NCDs, which account for 60 per cent of deaths in Jamaica annually.
The ban on smoking in public places takes effect on July 15.
Contact: Alphea Saunders