Health Minister Says No to Smoking Areas

Photo: JIS Photographer Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson (left), says the ban on smoking in specific areas is intended to reduce the unwanted effects of tobacco exposure on members of the public. The Minister was addressing journalists during a press briefing at the Office of Prime Minister on Monday (July 15). Also pictured are: Education Minister, Rev. the Hon. Ronald Thwaites (second left), and Legal Officer, Ministry of Health, Sheryl Dennis.

Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, has again turned down the suggestion that Government should allow the establishment of smoking areas in business places, describing such areas as “death chambers”.

Dr. Ferguson further informed that the Public Health (Tobacco Control) Regulations 2013 do not allow for the establishment of such spaces.

“My answer to that is absolutely not. We cannot allow the establishment of death chambers and this is what a room filled with persons smoking would be,” he told journalists on Monday, July 15, during a press briefing at the Office of the Prime Minister.

The Minister argued that in such situations, smokers are essentially inhaling their own smoke, plus the smoke of others around them. “In addition, the ventilation system can carry the smoke to other areas, which will then affect non-smokers,” he said.

Dr. Ferguson noted that the regulations stipulate that no smoking can take place within five metres of the entrance or exit of a public place and its ventilation system.

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In the meantime, the Ministry of Health has embarked on a major public education campaign to sensitise Jamaicans on the newly instituted ban on smoking in specified public spaces.

The ban, which falls under sections 14 and 15 of the Public Health Act, becomes effective on July 15.

It will see a restriction on smoking in enclosed places accessible to the public; public transportation; work places; government owned and occupied buildings; health facilities, including pharmacies; sports 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.

In this vein, the Ministry has launched campaigns in some major town centres across the island to educate and inform Jamaicans on the regulations.

“We will also start a radio public service advertisement today on multiple stations and we are continuing on a sensitisation programme for at least the next eight months, so that persons can be properly educated about their rights and responsibilities under the regulations,” Dr. Ferguson stated.

[Special Page: [Special Page: Fact Sheet: Ban on Smoking in Public Places]

He said the Ministry has also invited discussions with stakeholders, including the police and the Customs Department.

The Minister along with representatives from the Ministry will be part of an outside broadcast on RJR’s Hotline on Wednesday, July 17 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., to further answer the public’s questions on the matter.

“Our doors are open to anyone who wishes to have clarification on the issues and we have begun to send out soft copies of the regulations to the media, government entities and other stakeholders,” Dr. Ferguson said.

Contact: Athaliah Reynolds-Baker

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