The Cayman Islands Cancer Society wholeheartedly endorses and supports the draft Tobacco Bill and commends the Minster of Health Anthony Eden for presenting the White Paper to the Legislative Assembly.
Tobacco legislation is not a new concept. It has been enacted in countries including Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and Cuba. Parts of the United States, including Hawaii, have laws governing tobacco. Many of the countries that have enacted legislation over the past three years are signatories to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which is the world’s first global public health treaty.
The proposed legislation will mean that Cayman will join the ranks of the United Kingdom as well as other overseas Dependent Territories such as Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands as having comprehensive legislation governing the promotion, sale and use of tobacco products.
The scientific evidence unequivocally reports that there is no safe tobacco product and that the use of these products will impact a person’s health if not immediately at some time in the future.
The evidence also states that exposure to second-hand smoke is also potentially deadly and can impact a non-smokers health, including that of an unborn fetus, within minutes of exposure. Ventilation is not the solution – it may remove the smell and the sight of smoke, but not the carcinogens and other toxic substances in the air.
There are no statistics available to ascertain the cost of using tobacco products in terms of health. In the United States it is estimated that smoking-related illnesses cost more than $184 billion each year.
Approximately half of this is in medical expenditures and the other half on indirect costs such as days lost from work.
For every person that dies from smoking, 20 more people suffer from a serious tobacco-related disease.
The use of tobacco products is the single most avoidable cause of disease, disability and death.
The Society strongly supports the introduction of regulations governing the buying and selling of tobacco by minors and the proposed regulation that tobacco is sold in specified quantities. This will hopefully outlaw the practice of selling single cigarettes, a practice that increases access to children and other vulnerable groups.
It also support the proposal to ban the use of tobacco products within 10 feet of all entrances, windows, etc. to buildings and would recommend that this distance being increased to a minimum of 25 feet. There is precedence for this in other jurisdictions where the distance is often greater such as in the British Virgin Islands where it is 50 feet.
The Society encourages the Government to remain resolute in the face of any opposition that would weaken this legislation in any way and urges the Government to follow the lead of countries such as Scotland, Ireland and Bermuda and grant no concessions to specialist tobacco retailers and smoking rooms such as cigar bars.
Scientific studies have shown that the dangers presented to cigar smokers are no less serious then to cigarette smokers and the Society is concerned for the health of all Caymanians.
The vast majority of persons in the Cayman Islands, whether they be Caymanians, expats or visitors are non-smokers.
Studies show that smoking bans do not have any negative impact on businesses and in fact many businesses have seen and increase in revenues and a decrease in operating costs.
The Society supports the bill as it is written, with the banning of tobacco use within 25 feet of all building entrances and urges the public to take advantage of the consultative period to submit their overwhelming support of the proposed legislation.
Cayman Islands Cancer Society