KINGSTON — Government senator KD Knight, a former security minister, has lashed out against the handling of the smoking ban in public spaces, as resentment against the imposition of the ban continues to rise.
Knight told a People’s National Party South West St Catherine constituency banquet Saturday night that he would not support the ban and, if necessary, would demonstrate against its implementation.
He also noted that while the smoking of ganja was illegal, there was no mandatory sentences for persons caught smoking it publicly, yet mandatory sentences were being imposed for smoking cigarettes, which is a legal substance.
Pointing out that the imposition of the ban was not discussed in the Parliament and seemed to be solely the decision of Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson, he called for the ban to be lifted.
The ban has triggered controversy over the suddenness and the lack of information. The regulations were gazetted only the Friday before last Monday’s imposition of the ban.
Last Tuesday, opposition members of the House of Representatives, Everald Warmington and Delroy Chuck, forced Dr Ferguson to admit that the implementation process was “untidy”, On Friday, Opposition members of the Senate tabled a motion as well as questions on the issue.
Senator Kamina Johnson Smith asked the senate to call on the minister to immediately suspend, for no less than six months, enforcement of the regulations against individuals; and to immediately table the regulations in the Parliament for debate and review, notwithstanding any ministerial power exercised by him under the Public Health Act.
Senator Johnson Smith said that despite the powers granted to the minister under the Public Health Act, “the enactment of these important regulations, without parliamentary debate, was ill-advised, given the scope and extent of the potential impact of the regulations”. (Observer)