Today’s Editorial: Battle against smokers

Last week the Cayman Islands Airports Authority banned cigarette lighters and matches on board commercial aircraft.

The Authority’s ban on lighters, both as carry-on and in checked baggage, took effect simultaneously with one in the United States.

This latest action is just another blow for smokers, who are increasingly finding it difficult to engage in smoking, particularly when travelling.

First, smoking was banned on flights. Then it was banned inside of airports. Then it was confined outdoors at some airports to specific areas. Now smokers will have to obtain a method of lighting their cigarettes at their destination.

The war against smoking is intensifying in countries across the globe, with smokers finding fewer and fewer places to partake of their habits.

Ireland banned smoking in pubs and restaurants last year and more and more US states are adopting strict public smoking laws.

Even here in Cayman, Minister of Health Gilbert McLean has said he is in favour of a ban on smoking in restaurants and bars.

Whether such a ban will come to pass is unknown at this point, but just the fact it is being considered – in a tourism destination where banning smoking in restaurants and bars could upset visitors – is indicative of the way things are heading.

Make no mistake about it; smoking will eventually be eliminated from public places in most, if not all, advanced societies of the world.

Smoking kills people. Second hand smoke kills people, pets and pollutes the atmosphere. The world might not have known these facts 40 years ago, but it knows them now.

With the ever rising cost of healthcare, it is incumbent on responsible governments everywhere to do what they can to curtail smoking.

Smokers will always have a right to exercise free will and smoke if they choose to.

But governments, knowing what is known now, have an obligation to discourage the practice, and furthermore, to protect their citizens from the potential harms of smokers.

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