Repeal the ‘non-smoking’ Act!

Keith Gardner

Monday, April 10, 2017

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Anyone who has to, of necessity visit community shops, bars, markets and other public places across Jamaica will quickly notice the frequency with which individuals of all ages and gender smoke without regard to the existing law — often to the discomfort of others and their risk of developing cancer through secondary smoke inhalation.

Every person who smokes or holds a lit or electronic tobacco product within a five-metre radius of the entrance, exit, window, or ventilation intake of a public place, workplace or public conveyance, including but not limited to any place listed in the Second Schedule, commits an offence.


The Public Act (Tobacco Control) Regulations, 2013, in its Second Schedule, lists the places where smoking is prohibited. These include:


(1) public places


(2) &empmargin;workplaces or places of employment


(3) public conveyances


(4) &empmargin;all government-owned or occupied buildings


(5) &empmargin;health facilities, including pharmacies


(6) &empmargin;sports, athletic and recreational facilities for use of the public


(7) educational institutions


(8) bus stops


(9) &empmargin;areas specifically for use by children


Owners, occupiers, lessees, or operators of public transportation are required by law to display "no smoking signs" of the size and markings stipulated in the Act.


Members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) or authorised officers accompanied by members of the JCF are empowered to remove offending individuals from those places listed as areas where no smoking may take place.




Penalties


Every person who commits an offence under these regulations is liable:


(a) In the case of an individual, on summary conviction in a Resident Magistrate’s Court to:


(i) in the case of a first conviction, a fine not exceeding fifty thousand dollars, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months, or to both such fine and imprisonment;


(ii) in the case of a second conviction, a fine not exceeding five hundred thousand dollars, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to both such fine and imprisonment; and


(iii) in the case of an offence committed subsequent to a conviction for a second offence, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months.




Smoking guns


Cigarettes are smoking guns and the people who smoke them are not only committing suicide but are killing others through secondary inhalation. The police, who are charged with enforcing the law, have not only been ignoring these offences but are often themselves subscribing to the offence by smoking in public places. Civilians who complain are often abused or threatened.


This situation warrants sustained public education accompanied by enforcement. Imagine how much funds could be added to the public coffers should this law be enforced.




Keith M D Gardner is an attorney-at-law and director of security at The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus. He is a retired assistant commissioner of police and holds a Master’s Degree in Public Law. Send comments to the Observer or keith.gardner02@uwimona.edu.jm.

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