Ban on Cigarette Smoking in Jamaica
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.
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.
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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