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Ban on Cigarette Smoking in Jamaica

Updated on March 6, 2014

On July 15, 2013 Jamaica implemented a new legislation that bans smoking in public and enclosed areas. This law will be enacted courtesy of the Public Health (Tobacco Control) Regulations 2013. Those who are caught smoking in public or enclosed areas will be fined US $500 or serve a 3 months prison sentence. Repeat offenders will be fined US $1000 to US $5000 and risk mandatory jail time up to six months. Therefore, the Jamaican government is sending a message that cigarette and tobacco smoking will not be tolerated.

Source

The Irony of Smoking in Jamaica

Most people then ask the question, what about marijuana smoking in Jamaica? The answer is that ganja remains illegal. Marijuana smokers never smoked in public in the first place. It is ironic that those caught smoking marijuana will be fined US $5.00 or 3 days in jail. It is obvious that the government really hates cigarette smokers. People are furious about the ban and are saying it is exaggerated. It is the possession of ganja in Jamaica that is illegal.

Why did The Jamaican Government Ban Smoking in Public?

Jamaica has seen a 44% increase in the cases of lung cancer over the last 3 years. This is a large number based on the fact that in the 1990’s cases of lung cancer was minuscule. Lung cancer has become the 11th cause of death in Jamaica in 2012. (Reference @ http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/jamaica-lung-cancers)

Other References Used

Flawed laws creating criminals - Smoking ban can blight youths' future; anti-gang bill unjust - Jamaica Gleaner

Cancer scare - Doctor reports increase in new cases every week http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Cancer-scare_14390178#ixzz2ZDtGqrmP

Law takes light out of cigarettes today - Stiff penalties for those who sell, smoke in public - http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130715/lead/lead6.html

The minister of health, Dr Fenton Ferguson has claimed that non-communicable diseases such as cancer and heart disease cost the Jamaican govern approximately US$170 million every year. Given that Jamaica health care is heavily subsidized or free, this may be a desperate move to lower the health bill. The politicians are trying various methods to lower government expenditure in order to facilitate a loan from IMF.

There is also a rise of smoke related illnesses in non-smokers. These illnesses are positively correlated to second hand smoking of cigarettes. This is a great concern for everyone in Jamaica. There has always been conflict between smokers and non-smokers. The law has now decided to take up that conflict in order to protect cigarette non-smokers like myself.

The ministry of health has also put forth evidence that countries that have enacted similar laws have seen a decrease in smoke related illnesses. The model that Jamaica is copying is that of Ireland Republic which have seen double figure reductions of non-communicable diseases within a couple years of their cigarette ban in public places.

Will the Ban on Cigarette and Tobacco Smoking in Public Work?

The ban on cigarette smoking in Jamaica may be effective depending on the level of enforcement used. It would not be practical for the police force to concentrate most of their attention on cigarette smokers. The police force is already spread thin. Just a few arrests are enough to cause panic amongst smokers. It is ridiculous that those smoking in Jamaica will now have to be on the lookout for law enforcement. Police are already being trained on how to do a sniff test and how to positively identify tobacco.

The other problem that may arise due to the ban is the introduction of other plants that can be smoked. Smokers in Jamaica already enjoy smoking a plant from India called beadie. They are a couple other plants that are smoked that I am not familiar with.

Cigarette and tobacco smokers will be arrested in Jamaica
Cigarette and tobacco smokers will be arrested in Jamaica

Where Will Tobacco Smokers Smoke?

Tobacco and cigarette smokers will end up like Marijuana smokers. Smoking in Jamaica will have to be practiced in isolated areas or at home. Home smokers must own their home and not have any children. Smoking in bars may also be illegal if the public has access to the bar or if it is an enclosed space. Private owned businesses may not designate any areas for smokers. The Public Health (Tobacco Control) Regulations 2013 will be amended in the future to cut out any loop holes that may still exist.

How does this affect the tourism industry? It is too early to say. Jamaican laws are rarely enforced on hotel properties. Tourist to the island have always been subjected to more lenient treatments. The hotel industry will not tell their guests not to smoke on the hotel property. The customer is always right will be the objective for the tourism industry.

What do Jamaican Smokers Think about the New Law

Those affected by this new law think it is a political tactic to raise money. Cigarettes in Jamaica are already heavily taxed. The government has noticed that consumption has actually increased since. Therefore, this tactic is just to make a profit off those who smoke in Jamaica.

Smokers in Jamaica have always respected non-smokers in order to avoid a fight. They have always made an effort to practice smoking away from non-smokers. Jamaica does not have a problem where smokers run the town.

The fine associated with the crime is a hard pill to swallow. It is simple ridiculous. It is very unlikely that the average Jamaican can pay such a fine. It may be the largest fine for a non-violent on the island.

Personally, I do not care about cigarette smokers in Jamaica. Their habit is a death trap and I do not wish to see other non-smokers become affected.

Quick Fact: Jamaican smokers are well aware of the health implications of cigarettes. Cancer sticks is the slang used for cigarettes in Jamaica. "Hey man, could I bum a cancer stick off you".

SAY NO TO CIGARETTES

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Peace and Love My People

Copyright © 2012 Rasta1

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    • rasta1 profile image
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      Marvin Parke 2 years ago from Jamaica

      I do not believe this law is being enforced anyway. However, it did lead to reduce cigarette sales in the country.

    • Sharp Points profile image

      Sharp Points 2 years ago from Big Bear Lake, California

      Very interesting piece @rasta1. I understand that people are becoming more and more frustrated with second hand smoke these days, but a ban on smoking in public and enclosed areas pretty much covers most areas right? Where are they supposed to smoke? Do you think that this law will actually be followed or regulated? Seems like it would be difficult to prosecute offenders, basically making an example out of whoever they do catch. Anyway, great piece voted up.

    • rasta1 profile image
      Author

      Marvin Parke 3 years ago from Jamaica

      Respect Eiddwen. Since the ban, The cigarette companies have reported a decrease in sales.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      Very interesting and the smoking ban in Wales was enforced a few years ago now. We both gave up four years ago and apart from putting on a little weight the best thing I did. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to more by you.

      Eddy,.

    • rasta1 profile image
      Author

      Marvin Parke 3 years ago from Jamaica

      Respect AussieRespect. Cigarettes kill for real. I recently lost a friend to lung cancer. Definitely a death trap as stated on the product.

    • AussieRespect profile image

      Will Sellin 3 years ago from Land Down Under

      Respect Rasta1. The red tape and this fine on the people is tough. Period. Though the health of the Jamaican people is priceless, and if this forces them to smoke their last cancer stick, it is positive.

      In Australia smoking is banned inside all private establishments and areas within the vicinity of the entrances. This helped a few of my friends quit the sticks, due to smoking being a social convention. Once the sticks were taken out of the social equation, such as chilling at a bar, we all learned to live without them. Permanently and positively.

      Cigarettes are the death lollies of Babylon.

    • rasta1 profile image
      Author

      Marvin Parke 3 years ago from Jamaica

      Respect Torrilynn. Tourist are not really impacted. Hope you enjoy yourself.

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 3 years ago

      This is an interesting article indeed considering i am visiting jamaica in march and I am a smoker. Thanks for the hub. Best of wishes. Up and useful.

    • rasta1 profile image
      Author

      Marvin Parke 3 years ago from Jamaica

      Respect Cardisa. You are far from being a hypocrite. Cigarettes do kill people, I have lost a close friend recently to cigarettes. While he was smoking cigarettes, I was having high grades. After 6 years he developed a nasty cough and wouldn't stop until it turned into lung cancer. They are over 300 added chemicals in Cigs, it can be no longer classed as tobacco. I think it was specifically designed to kill people slowly, because those chemicals are not needed.

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 3 years ago from Jamaica

      I may a hypocrite but I actually had wanted cigarettes to be illegal for a while because they cause more damage than weed. I always wondered why they would have cigarettes and alcohol legal when they serve no medicinal purposes and only cause death, addiction and diseases; while the medicinal herb remains illegal. I am really glad about this ban.

    • rasta1 profile image
      Author

      Marvin Parke 3 years ago from Jamaica

      Respect Cardisa. The fine is actually working even though it is not enforced. Carreras has reported a 25% decrease in sales after the ban.

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 3 years ago from Jamaica

      The fine was implemented to scare people to not smoke in public. It's like a control factor. You wouldn't pay JA$50,000 for one JA$35 cigarette and you wouldn't want to go to jail for that either. If the fine is minuscule then people will just do it and pay. Similar to being caught with weed. Many people get caught, repeatedly and pay the one hundred JA dollar fine because the fine is so small.

      The idea of not smoking in public serves two purposes for the Government: (1) To reduce the incidents of diseases caused by both first hand and second hand smoking and (2) To make some extra money.

    • rasta1 profile image
      Author

      Marvin Parke 4 years ago from Jamaica

      The next couple of years will prove if the regulations improves the overall health of the population. Most of my readers are from the USA. That is why I quote the price in that currency. The rest of world is also very familiar with that currency.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Good move for Jamaica. Is US currency common used in transactions on the island? Why are the fines quoted in a foreign currency?

    • rasta1 profile image
      Author

      Marvin Parke 4 years ago from Jamaica

      Respect Elias. The fine is very high. The average Jamaican does not make $500 in a month.

    • Elias Zanetti profile image

      Elias Zanetti 4 years ago from Athens, Greece

      There are many countries in the world that the ban of smoking has been introduced but it sounds quite interesting when it comes to Jamaica. While most people agree that smoking is a bad and unhealthy habit yet the amount of the fine is definitely too high especially compared to other fines as you mention. Nice hub!

    • rasta1 profile image
      Author

      Marvin Parke 4 years ago from Jamaica

      Respect conradofontanilla. Smoking is a big problem in the world. I recently lost a friend the other day to chronic smoking. Therefore, this topic is a very sensitive topic for me. Smoking is done in Jamaica for the same reasons such as being cool, macho or just belonging to a smoking culture. The tobacco companies in Jamaica are not panicking because they now that their product is addictive. It will still sell. The burden has always been on the smokers in Jamaica.

    • conradofontanilla profile image

      conradofontanilla 4 years ago from Philippines

      Granted that to smoke is also one of liberties of a citizen. I was a smoker myself. I trace my indulgence from group pressure and belief that smoking enhances macho image. Then before I knew it I got addicted. When I got hospitalized for lung infection traced to smoking, I realized that i was cultivating the enemy right inside my body. I decided to quit smoking.

      Other smokers might have had a similar path who desire to stop smoking but lack the will power or that they are also suffering from depression or something similar that they try to mollify by smoking. However, if the habit becomes so widespread that it drains the economy it becomes a social and political issue. Governments then must intervene.

      Some tobacco farmers protest against any ban on tobacco because of the income they get from the crop. That is why I advocate cultivation of alternative crops as sources of income for farmers. I was a technician in growing Virginia tobacco varieties and I know first hand cultivation and incomes from tobacco. However, I could persuade some farmers to grow cotton instead. They reason that provided the alternative crop gives them income that they need, quitting the growing of tobacco is not a problem to them.

      Toleration of smoking is like allowing a fellow to get sick or to commit suicide slowly. Well, may be to get sick or committing suicide is one of the liberties also, although people who attempt suicide can be charged of a crime.

    • rasta1 profile image
      Author

      Marvin Parke 4 years ago from Jamaica

      Respect Marion. It is quite evident that second hand smoke does affect second-hand inhalers. The smokers immune system has already adapted to removing free radicals. Non-smokers have virgin lungs and is more susceptible to damage.

    • rasta1 profile image
      Author

      Marvin Parke 4 years ago from Jamaica

      Respect conradofontanilla. Governments all over the world have realized that tobacco and cigarette smokers are addicted. This means that they can keep it legal and tax it heavily. However, something has to be done to protect the non-smokers.

    • conradofontanilla profile image

      conradofontanilla 4 years ago from Philippines

      Fines and other punishments are disincentives to smoking. In the Philippines, the cost of hospitalization and medication of cigarette smoking-related diseases is about 180 billion pesos while the collection from taxes is only 60 billion pesos. Other countries do not impose too much taxes on tobacco because it triggers smuggling.

      The tobacco industry is making money on people who will get sick or die by consuming tobacco products. The non-smokers are dragged into the misfortune not their own making or desire.

    • rasta1 profile image
      Author

      Marvin Parke 4 years ago from Jamaica

      Respect KawikaChann. The Jamaican government are targeting cigarette smokers because it is a billion dollar industry. The cigarette smokers in Jamaica have a consciences and try to only smoke amongst fellow smokers and away from non-smakers.

    • rasta1 profile image
      Author

      Marvin Parke 4 years ago from Jamaica

      Respect DDE. It is a shock to non-smokers and smokers alike. the first thing Jamaicans are going to think is that there is some conspiracy to make money. The again, they might be right.

    • rasta1 profile image
      Author

      Marvin Parke 4 years ago from Jamaica

      It is Mhatter. It does not make any sense. I don't agree with cigarette smokers but the law is ridiculous. It just makes a larger portion of the population that smoke cigarettes into non-violent criminals.

    • rasta1 profile image
      Author

      Marvin Parke 4 years ago from Jamaica

      Respect Gypsy. Non-smokers can know report a rude smoker and have their concerns resolved by the law.

    • marion langley profile image

      marion langley 4 years ago from The Study

      Very interesting. I was in line for the local county fair the other day and someone lit up in line. It was so distracting because I've grown so unaccustomed to it...the smell and the haze. ick. Not letting people smoke in public seems rather extreme but us non-smokers will be thankful cause...ick. thanks for writing.

    • conradofontanilla profile image

      conradofontanilla 4 years ago from Philippines

      I am not familiar with marijuana or beadle if they contain radioactive materials that tobacco does. The radioactive materials in tobacco are polonium 210 and lead 210 that produce x-rays and free radicals as they decay. X-rays and free radicals cause tumor and cancer. i have several Hubs on this topic.

      There are already laws in place similar to Jamaican law in banning smoking in public places in the Philippines. I now advocate ban in growing tobacco and the growing of other crops in place of tobacco that give alternative source of income for farmers.

      Tobacco gives a temporary but deadly pleasure. Voted useful and interesting.

    • KawikaChann profile image

      KawikaChann 4 years ago from Northwest, Hawaii, Anykine place

      Wow, what a great piece - this is something that is on-going in the US. Makes me glad my wife and I gave up smoking a long time ago. Heavy taxes, the burden of guilt that you could harm others around you, and being arrested and fined - that's a heavy cost for smoking. Up/interest. Peace. Kawi.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Interesting facts a bout smoking banned in Jamaica, sounds a shock

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

      Unbelievable. I believe you (and a good report, I might add). But this is unbelievable.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and interesting. Thanks for sharing. Nice to know that a very bad habit has once again been banned and won't affect non-smokers anymore.

    • rasta1 profile image
      Author

      Marvin Parke 4 years ago from Jamaica

      Respect Susan. Canada is a very assertive country in terms of its law. Jamaica does everything overnight with brute force.

    • rasta1 profile image
      Author

      Marvin Parke 4 years ago from Jamaica

      Thanks Daisy for the positive energy. I do not know how to thank you.

    • rasta1 profile image
      Author

      Marvin Parke 4 years ago from Jamaica

      Respect Mary, That is exactly what most Jamaicans are saying. It is not logical or practical to charge such an enormous fine.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      This comes as a big surprise to me! I think it is ridiculous to fine smokers such an amount! OK, ban smoking in public places, but don't fine those who get caught....

    • Daisy Mariposa profile image

      Daisy Mariposa 4 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      Art,

      Thanks for publishing this very important article. I'm sharing this with my HP followers and in a Google+ group. I'm also tweeting it.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Canada banned smoking in public places as well quite a while back. Some companies do have a designated area for their employees to smoke but it is very rare.