KINGSTON — Some smokers are fuming at government’s announced ban on smoking in public places, arguing that it infringes their personal liberty to recreate and enjoy themselves as they see fit.
Further, they charge that to make offences under the Public Health (Tobacco Control) Regulations criminal borders on tyranny. The regulations were announced in parliament on Tuesday and become effective on July 15. They carry penalties of fines ranging from $50,000 to $1 million as well as prison terms from three months to a year.
The Jamaica Observer spoke with three heavy smokers from Corporate Jamaica on Wednesday who opted to not have their names disclosed. One smokes three 20-packs of cigarettes a day, the other says he is down to eight sticks a day, while the third says he is between eight and 10 sticks on a normal day, but up to 20 when partying. They all picked up the habit in their teenage years.
“I think my rights are being infringed on,” the first said.
“I think the government is misled and ill-advised in respect to the ban. To limit smoking in public spaces is fine, but to levy penalties and make it a criminal offence is taking it a bit too far,” he added.
The second smoker shared the view that Government is overreaching in its approach.
“I think it is a misguided, totally skewed approach. Either you ban cigarettes altogether, which would be a further infringement of people’s rights, but to hold people criminally liable for smoking in public spaces smacks of arrogance,” he said.
“You cannot legislate how I enjoy myself,” he argued, adding that the move “will give corrupt police another avenue to rip people off”. (Observer)