- The House of Representatives has approved amendments to the regulations governing the ban on smoking in public places.
- The general reference to homes and private vehicles used for employment purposes will be removed.
- The committee also endorsed the proposal to have a robust education campaign, beginning in schools.
The House of Representatives has approved amendments to the regulations governing the ban on smoking in public places, which were recommended by the Human Resource and Social Development Committee of Parliament.
A report from the Committee was submitted to the Lower House for debate and approval, on January 28.
In his contribution to the debate, Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, outlined some of the changes that will be made to the regulations, due to recommendations from the committee, Cabinet, and other stakeholders.
“The terms ‘public place’ and ‘enclosed’ will be redefined to ensure greater clarity and appropriate enforcement. Smoke free places will be clarified. These include, but is not limited to all outdoor service and dining areas, indoor areas, parks, heritage sites excluding their parking lots, gateways and driveways,” Dr. Ferguson said.
In respect of the definition of ‘workplace’, Dr. Ferguson said the ban will apply to enclosed workplaces in general. However, the general reference to homes and private vehicles used for employment purposes will be removed.
The Minister also explained that previously, persons whose operations were subject to the provisions of the regulations, were allowed a period of six months to bring their operations in full compliance with the legislation, but this has been extended.
“In accordance with the recommendation of the committee, the transitional period will be extended to nine months and will now expire on April 14, 2014,” Dr. Ferguson noted.
The Minister said the fines of $5,000 for the first offence, $25,000 for the second, and $50,000 for subsequent offences recommended by the committee, were considered too low by the Ministry to encourage compliance.
“Therefore, the Ministry, in consultation with the Chief Parliamentary Counsel and the Attorney General’s Chambers, has settled on maximum fines as follows: $10,000 for a first offence; $25,000 for a second, and $50,000 for subsequent offences,” Dr. Ferguson said.
The committee also endorsed the proposal to have a robust education campaign, beginning in schools, to make the public aware of the limits of the regulations as well as the effects of tobacco smoke on the body and environment.
Dr. Ferguson said the Ministry fully supports the committee’s recommendations, and through its Health Promotion and Protection branch and the National Council on Drug Abuse, has extended its public education campaign in keeping with the need to engage the public in dialogue on the harmful effects of tobacco exposure.