A smoke-free Cayman

The list of societies that have banned smoking in public places is growing fast but not fast enough. Some 11,000 people die from passive smoke each year in the UK alone, according to a recent study. Imagine getting sick and even dying, not because you chose to smoke, but because other people smoked near you. It’s outrageous, and a ban is logical and moral. It is fine if people choose to smoke far away from others. To impose something that is a confirmed poison on innocent people, however, is inexcusable and should be illegal.

Here in the Cayman Islands, Health Minister Gilbert McLean has called for a public smoking ban. Obviously he is smart enough and compassionate enough to be disturbed by the health costs, loss of productivity and deaths that come with smoking. Caymanians would be wise to support McLean’s goal.

Even smokers have an interest in this. It is not enough for a polite smoker to light up only when far away from others, because smokers too cannot be sure that their child or elderly parent will not be exposed to second-hand smoke from a less thoughtful smoker while at the beach or in a restaurant. Smokers who love their families should support a ban.

California, New York City, England, Ireland, Tanzania, Bhutan, Norway, Turkey, the Netherlands, and other societies have already enacted or are close to enacting a public smoking ban. Why are they ahead of us? Are they smarter than we are? Do they love their children more than we love ours? There are no excuses. We know smoke is harmful and we know that people who don’t smoke should not have to inhale the stuff. This is not a clash between smokers and non-smokers. This debate is between people who care about the health of others and those who do not. Please, let’s do the right thing now rather than later and ban public smoking.

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