Government is considering expanding the smoking ban which took effect in October 2010, and which seeks to protect vulnerable individuals and groups from the harmful effects of second-hand tobacco smoke.
The anti-smoking legislation prohibits smoking in public places such as structures or facilities owned or occupied by the state or a statutory boards; factories, workplaces or other structures that are fully or substantially enclosed; and hotel lobbies, hotel rooms and restaurants.
While divulging little about proposed changes to the law, Minister of Health John Boyce said Government would look to extend the ban beyond covered areas because when people step outside of a facility such as a restaurant to smoke, those dining inside were still being affected.
“We already have legislation to deal with smoking in public places, and this has gone down very well with Barbadians. I believe it is worth a revisit by the Ministry of Health in terms of maybe extending the non-smoking ban beyond just the cover of public places, but to extend to some level of . . . somewhere outside the actual boundaries of these public places,” Boyce said of the current law which comes with some strict regulations and stiff fines, including fines of $500 or a 12-month prison term or both for smokers who are in violation and fines of $5,000 or be imprisoned for 12 months, or both for proprietors found guilty of allowing people to smoke under their roofs.
Boyce made the announcement as he spoke in the House of Assembly this afternoon on the Excise Tax (Validation of Tax) Bill which imposed a ten per cent levy on sweetened drinks with a view to encouraging Barbadians to make healthier choices in light of a serious state of chronic non-communicable diseases (CNCD) here.
He said the move to reduce the consumption of sugary beverages was just part of Government’s push to bring down the high rate of CNCDs, and the sweetened beverage tax introduced in the 2015 Budget had resulted in “a reduction in the consumption of sugary beverages”.
Boyce said there was now a need to continue the tax on soft drinks for a while longer.
The Bill was passed.