Tobacco policy poised to become law by next year

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ST JOHN’S, Antigua – As Jamaica announced the implementation of a smoking ban in public places starting July 15, local authorities hope that a tobacco policy here will become law by next May.

Chairman of the Antigua & Barbuda Tobacco Free Initiative Colin O’Keiffe said the final touches have been put on the Tobacco Control draft policy.

“We are in a position now where we feel that this document is comprehensive enough and modern enough to be represented to the Solicitor General’s Office,” he said.

The Ministry of Health statistician said within a month the document would be presented to the solicitor general and that by World No Tobacco Day (May 31) 2014, he hopes it will be enacted into law.

“There are a series of public exchanges that will be necessary. All necessary stakeholders will have to be involved as to what will be expected of them,” O’Keiffe said.

He added that several businesses should be commended for already implementing bans on smoking in the absence of any legal requirements to do so.

O’Keiffe said they recognise that in countries where smoking bans are in effect, businesses have recorded increased sales and less wear-and-tear.

“Their furniture lasts longer; there is less cleanup work to do; their clothes smell better, and more patrons walk in because some persons wouldn’t mind eating in certain places if people can’t smoke,” he said.

“This has been proven in literally every country that has banned smoking in public places.”

Asked about the rationale of tobacco control legislation in a nation where cigarette smoking is perceived not to be a popular practice, the no-smoking advocate said even one cigarette is a health problem.

“Cigarettes are sold, smoking takes place, and even one cigarette can cause immense damage,” he said.

(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)


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