VIDEO: Carreras continues push for local tobacco legislation

By Alicia Dunkley Observer senior reporter dunkleya@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Print this page Email A Friend!




THE call for Government to fast-track a Tobacco Control Bill for Jamaica has come from the most unlikely quarter, Carreras Limited, the local cigarette company.


Parliament from as far back as 2000 has been pondering legislation to discourage tobacco use and further to ban smoking in public spaces, but despite much agitation a statute is yet to emerge.


Yesterday, Richard Pandohie, managing director of Carreras Jamaica, told the weekly Observer Monday Exchange that lawmakers did not have much time left since the country is signatory to the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).


"Basically Jamaica is obliged to enact regulations surrounding the consumption of tobacco. But the truth is, we believe that we need balanced regulation. We know that the use and consumption of our products creates health risks, therefore we think it's the right of non-smokers not to be exposed that way. At the same time there are adult consumers who have taken the option of smoking and we think they have their rights," Pandohie told editors and reporters yesterday, arguing that Carreras probably had more in common with anti-smoking lobbyists than was thought.


"We want the legislation to come because it also is part of the requirements to deal with the illicit trade. It has to come, the Government has no choice, but we want all the facts to be put on the table, all the evidence to be put there and the regulations to be done. It makes no sense to put in willy-nilly regulations and then you can't enforce it," the Carreras head said. He also noted that a complete "prohibition-based situation" was not the answer, warning that this only created "unintended consequences like the illicit trade" the competition from which he said has reached "crisis proportions".


In the meantime, he said Government's inaction was holding the company at ransom while emphasising that the legislation should be overarching and not just focused on one area such as banning smoking in public spaces.


"It is strange, but we are one of the ones pushing for the Government to put the draft in place, we think the longer it stays out there it creates more uncertainty; it's hard to build a business model, but we know they must do it.


"It is our expectation that the Government will present a Bill, dealing with the entire thing and not just piecemeal. We believe regulation is necessary, what we are asking for is balanced regulations, one that's practical, enforceable and takes into consideration all the stakeholders, the rights of smokers and non-smokers alike," he said.


Pandohie said while he was not aware of the existence of a draft Bill, he was of the view that the "legislation is imminent" and "will be in effect within a year".


Said the Carreras boss: "We are in a controversial industry, we want to take responsibility for what we do; the legislation is mandatory, it's going to happen and we are not going to say whether it's fair or unfair (as) we don't know what's in the specific part of the Jamaican agreement; what we are asking for is just a balanced approach."


Head of corporate and regulatory affairs at Carreras, Christopher Brown, meanwhile, made it clear that the company was not against proposals for a ban on smoking in public spaces.


"What we want is for the entities like bars and restaurants that have clearly designated areas that will not cause non-smokers to be abused by second-hand smoke, and that where you have establishments that have those areas, build into the legislation that smoking can be allowed in those areas," Brown said. He pointed out that "long before it became fashionable for tobacco companies not to advertise Carreras took it upon (themselves) as a responsible tobacco company to not advertise".


On the issue of the ban on open sponsorship of sporting and other events, Brown said Carreras was also not against what is proposed, but said at the same time the company believed it had a contribution to make towards nation-building.



ADVERTISEMENT




POST A COMMENT

HOUSE RULES

1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy



comments powered by Disqus
ADVERTISEMENT

Poll

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon
ADVERTISEMENT