Tobacco bill needed

The Cayman Islands Medical and Dental Society strongly supports the proposed tobacco bill in its essence.

Since tobacco smoke is a proven health risk the doctors agree that legislation to control its use and sale is appropriate and valuable.

Both smoking and second-hand exposure in the work place and in public facilities carry health risks. By restricting smoking in the public domain, it is hoped this will additionally encourage voluntary elimination of second-hand smoke in the home, for the sake of our children.

CIMDS feels that the bill would benefit tourism, since today’s health-conscious tourists appreciate clean, healthy air to breathe. In addition CIMDS endorses controls on tobacco advertising and prohibition of sale to minors.

However the section of the proposed bill dealing with penalties is in need of further thought and revision. Some punishments appear unrealistic and too extreme. For example, the 10-feet rule carries a $2,000 fine for first offence and $10,000 fine plus three months in jail for a second offence.

As doctors we have compassion for all of our patients, both smokers and non-smokers. Jail time for smoking in the wrong spot (possibly by accident) is inappropriate and counterproductive. In addition the implications for uninformed tourists could be major dilemma.

Almost everyone over the age of 30 has been touched by at least one tragic tobacco-related death in their extended network of family and friends. CIMDS doctors, being committed to our patients’ health, encourage smokers to stop. Second-hand smoke control boils down to consideration for the comfort and the health of others.

We applaud the Ministry of Health for taking a positive stance on the issue of smoking. This bill is an important step forward.