Draft of Tobacco Control Regulations in final stagesThursday, May 31, 2012
JAMAICA is now in its final stages of drafting and reviewing the Tobacco Control Regulations, which will represent a series of laws to protect citizens from the effects of tobacco, including the banning of smoking in public and workplaces.
The acceleration of the legislation comes even as local cigarette manufacturer, Carreras Limited, calls for full inclusion in the crafting and enactment of any such tobacco control regulations.
The Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control (JCTC) said today's observance of World No Tobacco Day, under the theme "Tobacco Industry Interference", will focus on the need to expose and counter the tobacco industry's "blatant and increasingly aggressive attempt to undermine the World Health Organisation (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), which seeks to reduce tobacco use and the number of people who die from it".
The coalition cited Article 5:3 of the Treaty, which states that "in setting and implementing their public health policies with respect to tobacco control, parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law".
Yesterday, head of corporate and regulatory affairs at Carreras, Christopher Brown, said while he supported the Government's stated position to enact Tobacco Control Regulations in Jamaica, this must be done in a balanced manner.
"... All that we ask of the Government is for such regulations to be balanced, practical, and enforceable; and that they respect the rights of both smokers and non-smokers," he said.
Brown said that as a major cigarette industry stakeholder in Jamaica, and in furtherance of its right to protect its legitimate commercial interest, Carreras will use all legitimate means to have its views heard on issues which affect business.
"We also take this opportunity to appeal to all parliamentarians that in representing the interests of the electorate, that they consider the extent to which Carreras has made and continues to make a major contribution to the well-being of their constituents," Brown said.
The Carreras spokesman said it was unfortunate that the Tobacco Control community was once again using Article 5.3 of the FCTC to promote as its theme for this year's World No Tobacco Day, which he said was aimed at encouraging industry exclusion.
Jamaica, he said, was not in breach of the FCTC Convention and would only be when the legislation is ratified. "Until such legislation is brought to the Parliament, the FCTC is only a guide, a framework from which countries like Jamaica can utilise when formulating their local laws relating to tobacco control," he said.
An unintended consequence of draconian and unenforceable regulation, Brown said, has been a further rise in the illicit trade, which goes beyond hurting the legitimate tobacco industry and the livelihood of thousands of tobacco retailers, to severely impacting Government's revenues.