Most smokers in Jamaica will no doubt be grumbling at the ban on smoking in public places which takes effect on July 15, 2013.
Smokers unable to resist the urge for a few puffs in public spaces will find themselves in breach of a new regulation which carries heavy penalties.
The new regulations were announced in Parliament by Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson last Tuesday, and will carry penalties ranging from $50,000 to $1 million as well as prison sentences.
In making the announcement in the House of Representatives yesterday, Ferguson said smoking would be banned in all enclosed places, public transportation, workplaces, government buildings, health facilities, sports, athletics and recreational facilities, educational facilities, areas specifically for use by children, and places of collective use such as bus stops.
“For the first time at last, the people of Jamaica will have a smoke-free environment in specified areas,” Ferguson said in his contribution to the Sectoral Debate.
“Mr Speaker, come July 15, no longer will our workers and children have to involuntarily inhale tobacco smoke, with its over 40 carcinogens,” Ferguson said.
Failure to comply will result, in the first instance, in a fine not exceeding $50,000 or imprisonment for a term of not more than three months, or both.
Fines will be not more than $500,000 or six months behind bars. Subsequent to that, a term of imprisonment not exceeding 12 months will take effect.
For corporate bodies such as nightclubs, the failure to comply will attract fines not exceeding $1 million.
In accordance with the ban, the minister said establishments will have six months within which to post ‘No smoking’ signs, and tobacco products will carry large, graphic health warnings instead of the text only warnings now used.
The ban, he argued, will cut the number of children who begin smoking and increase the number of people who quit the habit.
It is also expected to have an impact on reducing the incidence of non-communicable diseases by 25 per cent by 2025.
Jamaica signed the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in 2003 and ratified it in 2005.
The treaty aims to reduce the demand for and consumption of tobacco, which is said to claim almost six million lives each year, as well as being a primary cause for a range of cancers and other non-communicable diseases such as respiratory and cardiac illnesses.
Jamaica joins Trinidad and Barbados in instituting tobacco control regulations.