Representatives of the world’s two largest tobacco companies both said at the Chamber of Commerce’s luncheon last Wednesday they supported the objectives of the Cayman Islands draft Tobacco Bill.
Speaking in an interview after the luncheon, Philip Morris Latin America and Canada Manager, Corporate Communications Fernando Carrillo said he was invited by the Chamber of Commerce to provide comments on behalf of his company on the bill.
‘Philip Morris supports strong and effective legislation, not only in the Cayman, but in all 160 countries where our products are sold,’ he said.
‘We have no overall objection of reducing the harm caused by smoking. It causes cancer, emphysema and other respiratory diseases and it’s addictive.’
Mr. Carrillo said that contrary to popular belief, strong legislation could be good for the tobacco industry.
‘It’s good for the industry because it allows us to have predictability about our business in the future,’ he said. ‘Legislation is here to stay.’
Focusing on specific issues, Mr. Carrillo said Philip Morris fully supported legislation aimed at preventing minors from smoking.
‘We cannot avoid the subject of preventing youth smoking,’ he said. ‘Children should not smoke.’
Mr. Carrillo said Philip Morris also supports some of the provisions of Cayman’s Tobacco Bill that are in place to protect adult non-smokers.
‘I believe public smoking should be restricted,’ he said. ‘We support [smoking] bans from certain public places.’
‘Restricting public smoking would be interests of everyone,’ he said. ‘Tobacco use causes diseases that kill people.’
However, Mr. Carrillo said Philip Morris believes there should be areas inside public places where adults can smoke in separated rooms.
Even though the World Health Organisation has raised the issue of the health of employees in public places if smoking was allowed in separated rooms, Mr. Carrillo said the decision whether this is permissible should be left to the employer.
‘We think [employers] are the best people to make these decisions,’ he said. ‘The owners of places should be the ones to consider [if smoking is permissible in their establishment] and ponder the situation.’
Another issue that Philip Morris wants to see in the legislation concerns advertising at the point of sale.
‘We support advertising bans on everything outsides the point of sale,’ he said, acknowledging that advertising in other places could influence minors or other non-smokers.
‘But the point of sale is the last place where we can communicate to smokers,’ he said. ‘As long as an adult consumer has decided he’s a smoker, he should be able to decide what kind of brand he wants.’
Mr. Carrillo said he did not think the request was unreasonable.
‘Almost no country in the world has banned point-of-sale advertising.’
Usha Aavatar from British American Tobacco also spoke at the Chamber luncheon and said her company supported the legislation as well.
‘However, the success of the legislation is not just getting it passed, but making it stick,’ she said. ‘It will stick if it’s practical, reasonable and enforced.’
Ms Aavatar suggested the Cayman Islands use structured and facilitated dialogue as a way of truly determining the wants and needs of all stakeholders in the issue.
Like her industry colleague from Philip Morris, Ms Aavatar said that some form of promotion should be allowed at the retail point of sale and that smoking should be allowed indoors in defined smoking areas, especially in businesses in the hospitality industry.
Ms Aavatar said inside ventilation could be done in such a way that air quality could be acceptable and to a testable standard. British American Tobacco was willing to work with one establishment here to demonstrate this, she said.
For its part, Philip Morris will be submitting a written comment to the proposed bill during the consultation period, Mr. Carrillo said.