Smoking tobacco in Public places is illegal (banned) in Jamaica.

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Cigarette smoking in public places in Jamaica is now banned. Smokers who light up at specified locations will be in trouble with the law as the Public Health (Tobacco Control) Regulations took effect  July 2013. This is in keeping with a June 25, 2013 announcement by Dr. Fenton Ferguson, Minister of Health Minister.

The regulations require that “NO SMOKING” signs be posted at places of  work, government buildings, educational institutions and health facilities including pharmacies. Smoking is also banned in public passenger vehicles as well as areas used by children and places of  collective use such as bus stops.

Persons who fail to comply with the smoking laws will, in the first instance, be fined up to J$50,000 or be imprisoned for a maximum of  three months, or both. For a second breach, persons will have to pay up to J$500,000 or serve as much as six months behind bars. For entities such as nightclubs, failure to comply will attract fines up to J$1 million.

The move is part of  Jamaica’s thrust to meet its international obligations, to enact measures to reduce the use of  tobacco, and  exposure to tobacco smoke.

The Health Minister has called a press conference to explain the new smoking regulations. Persons have also been asked to wear white  on Mondays to show support for the ban on smoking.

Not happy

In the meantime, marketer and distributor of  cigarettes and tobacco products in Jamaica, Carreras, is not happy with the manner in which the regulations governing the smoking ban were made public. The company had expressed concern that persons were not adequately sensitised about the regulations which were gazetted last Thursday following a delay.

Marcus Steele, Carreras’ managing director, told RJR News that the company is trying to work around the situation.

“You would appreciate we have been getting a lot of calls from our retailers, from our customers, from persons of interest, persons who are very concerned about the ban. And we were not in a position to clearly demonstrate to our stakeholders and the persons of interest as to what  exactly will happen. But am heartened that it is not a 100 per cent ban on smoking in public places and that is the clear message that we will have to continue to communicate to our stakeholders,” said Mr. Steele.

The company will be undertaking its own public education campaign to communicate the do’s and don’ts of  the law governing the ban.

Marches

And, the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) said the introduction of the ban on smoking should be seamless for most private sector entities. According to JCC’s president, Francis Kennedy, a large number of  companies had already prohibited smoking in their buildings. However, Mr. Kennedy believes there could be some resistance at entertainment spots.

Marches have been organised in three towns across Jamaica in support of  the ban on smoking in public places.  Colleen Browne, assistant director of Client Services at the National Council on Drug Abuse, said one of  the marches will take place at the Mandela Park in Half-Way Tree. The others will take place in Morant Bay, St. Thomas and in Montego Bay, St James. Ms Browne is urging the public to support these marches and to wear white.

As he had promised, Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson softened his stance on the tobacco control regulations that had left sections of the public fuming.

He, however, continued to talk tough that the Government would not ease up from its stance to ensure that the provisions are effectively enforced to secure the good health of the populace.

Ferguson announced amendments to Section 2 of the regulation, which refers to the definition of the term ‘public place’.

He disclosed that there would also be reductions to the fines for breaches to the regulations, which were finally tabled in the House.

Instead, Ferguson said focus would be placed on the imposition of non-criminal sanctions. Section 15 of the regulations empowers the minister to impose penalties of up to $1 million for public-health breaches.

NO SMOKING ROOMS

But even as he moved to relax the definition of public place, Ferguson stressed that there would be no retreat on smoking rooms.

“I also maintain that I will not endorse the establishment of smoking rooms in business places,” asserted Ferguson. “We will not compromise the health of our workers. Smoking will not be allowed in the workplace, including restaurants, bars, and clubs.”

The health minister said persons who desired to smoke must do so away from the entrance, exit, window, and ventilation intake of such establishments.

Tension gripped the Parliament briefly as fuming Opposition members clamoured for a debate ahead of the delivery of a statement by Ferguson, but the Government firmly stood its ground.

Leader of Opposition Business Delroy Chuck accused the Govern-ment of breaching parliamentary conventions by allowing Ferguson to make a ministerial statement on a matter that was scheduled for debate, a charge that was soundly dismissed by House Leader Phillip Paulwell.

EGREGIOUS ARROGANCE’

Outspoken Opposition member Everald Warmington, who rose to Chuck’s defence, declared that “egregious arrogance” was being displayed by the Government members, who blew off the charge.

Fenton told the House of Representatives that the use of private residences or homes and private vehicles would be scratched from the requirements of public enclosed spaces or workplaces under the regulations.

The minister said Section 3 (3) of the regulation that deals with labelling of individual sticks of cigarettes had also been removed.

“However, public education will focus on parents, guardians, and householders to voluntarily cease smoking in their homes and private vehicles, especially where children are involved,” said Ferguson.

Ferguson disclosed that the Government was in discussions with the tourism industry in the search for ways to best implement the regulations in a practical way.

Jamaica implemented a smokefree air law on July 15, 2013. The law made enclosed public places smokefree, including public transportation; workplaces; government-owned and occupied buildings; health facilities; pharmacies; sports and recreational facilities for use by the public; educational institutions; areas specifically used by children; and places of collective public use, such as bus stops.

However, opponents of the law lobbied to have it changed, and in August 2013, Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson stated that changes to reduce fines, and to redefine “public spaces” and areas designated for smoking, would be implemented in September.
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The ban on smoking in specified public places will remain in force, but with some changes, which will ensure that the Government is acting in line with the spirit … The section of the Regulations, which deals with the labelling of individual cigarettes will be removed, and the definition of ‘public place’, ‘enclosed space’ and ‘workplace’ will be amended. Additionally , the Minister informed that private residence or homes, and private vehicles that are not being used for services, will be excluded from the requirements of public enclosed spaces. “We will reduce the fines and consider the imposition of non-criminal sanctions,” he told the House. Dr. Ferguson also informed that discussions are ongoing with the tourism industry on how best to implement the Regulations.

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3 thoughts on “Smoking tobacco in Public places is illegal (banned) in Jamaica.

  1. very disappointed. Was planning a trip there for the end of august.. not anymore. Deffinitly going to loose alot of tourism. Maybe ban it inside but not in public. If people dont like it they can move away. Im literally disgusted with this decision. Guess ill never be visiting jamacia or any other place with that stupid law. People are paying thousands of dollars to be on vacation, relax and do what THEY WANT like smoking and having a drink and like i said people dont like it move away simple.

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    • Please understand that outside in open air is no problem but in a club or in a concert with people enclosed or with people next to you it is not allow. On the beach is fine or in designated smoking areas but as for freedom of movement and access to smoking areas and possibilities this law only determines what areas are smoking safe and those which are not

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