KINGSTON — Smokers unable to resist the urge for a few puffs in public spaces will, starting on July 15, find themselves in breach of a new regulation which carries heavy penalties.
Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson yesterday trumpeted in the House of Representatives the long-talked-about ban on smoking in what he termed “specified areas”, and sought to revive memories of former Prime Minister Michael Manley who repeatedly used the phrase “for the first time at last”, for dramatic effect in an address to the annual conference of the ruling People’s National Party in the 1970s.
“For the first time at last, the people of Jamaica will have a smoke-free environment in specified areas,” Ferguson said in his contribution to the Sectoral Debate.
“Mr Speaker, come July 15, no longer will our workers and children have to involuntarily inhale tobacco smoke, with its over 40 carcinogens,” Ferguson said.
The Public Health (Tobacco Control) Regulations, 2013 will affect:
* All enclosed places;
* Public transportation;
* Government-owned and occupied buildings;
* Health facilities, including pharmacies;
* Public sports, athletic and recreational facilities;
* Educational institutions;
* Areas specified for use by children; and
* Places for collective use such as bus stops.
Failure to comply will result, in the first instance, in a fine not exceeding $50,000 or imprisonment for a term of not more than three months, or both.
In the second instance, fines will be not more than $500,000 or six months behind bars. Subsequent to that, a term of imprisonment not exceeding 12 months will take effect.
For corporate bodies such as nightclubs, the failure to comply will attract fines not exceeding $1 million.
In accordance with the ban, the minister said establishments will have six months within which to post “No smoking” signs, and tobacco products will carry large, graphic health warnings instead of the text only warnings currently used. (Observer)