KINGSTON — When Health Minister Dr. Fenton Ferguson addresses Parliament tomorrow, he is expected to announce major changes to the newly implemented no-smoking regulations which have been at the centre of public debate.
Peter Bunting, general secretary of the People’s National Party, speaking during a press briefing following yesterday’s conclusion of the party’s two-day National Executive Council meeting at the University of the West Indies in St Andrew, said Ferguson had delivered a comprehensive report to Comrades.
“The minister said he has listened to the various groups and where there can be some accommodation, he will issue a new set of regulations,” said Bunting.
“He also gave a commitment that the [Public Health] Act will be amended so that in future, the regulations will require either affirmative resolution of Parliament or some confirmation from Parliament itself, as most modern pieces of regulation now require. This act may have been one of the older ones that did not contemplate that.”
He added: “[Ferguson] has accepted that for good governance, it would be appropriate to amend that act, so that going forward, you would have this sort of debate during the course of the resolution being taken in Parliament, rather than having first to put out regulations and then come to amend them at a subsequent stage.”
Party Chairman Robert Pickersgill noted that Ferguson promised he would take into consideration concerns raised by PNP Senator K.D. Knight, an attorney-at-law and acknowledged smoker, and have further consultation on the matter.
Pickersgill said the penalties for smoking marijuana are also expected to be amended.
“You will see some adjustments for various areas, in terms of the penalties, … the definition of some of the public spaces, among other issues that will be addressed. As to the specifics, the minister will bring his submission to Cabinet tomorrow (today) and then the public will be advised on Tuesday,” Bunting added.
He said Ferguson also noted that the implementation of the Public Health Tobacco Control Regulations on July 15 has brought a dramatic reduction to smoking in public spaces. (Gleaner)