Practical smoking law vowed

Cabinet will consider practical modifications to the new Tobacco Bill, so long as they don’t compromise the aims of the legislation, Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts said Friday.

Speaking at a Cabinet press briefing, Health Minister Anthony Eden said he hopes a refined Tobacco Bill will be presented to the Legislative Assembly during its next sitting, which begins 31 August.

Mr. Eden expects his Cabinet colleagues will support the legislation, despite some of them being smokers.

‘We would be like a sore thumb to the world [if anti-smoking laws are not passed],’ he said.

‘Every other nation in the world is passing similar legislation and I have confidence in my colleagues that they will do what is right, even though a handful of them may have some difficultly breaking their bad habit.’

‘This is for the benefit of the nation.’

Mr. Eden’s comments come less than a week after England and parts of Australia passed legislation outlawing smoking in public places.

The bill, which was released as a white paper for public consultation on 5 March, proposes to ban smoking in all public places in the Cayman Islands.

The bill also contains provisions regulating the labeling, sale, promotion and distribution of tobacco products.

Although the proposed ban on smoking in public places received broad support, some sections of the bill came in for criticism, particularly proposed bans on smoking in public outdoor areas and possible jail terms for people in breach of the law.

The Cayman Islands Medical and Dental Society said the possibility of jail time for a second offence of smoking too close to a building entrance appeared unrealistic and too extreme.

The Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce also expressed concern with the bill, saying it required extensive revision, and would adversely impact small businesses that derive a significant portion of their income from the sale of tobacco products.

Last week, business owners continued to give the bill a mixed reaction.

Over the Edge owner, Philippe Gross, who recently quit smoking, said a ban on smoking in outdoor patio areas may be going a little too far, but he doesn’t think it will affect business.

“France, Ireland, the UK; they have all done these things [introduce anti-smoking laws] and life goes on.”

But Tortuga Rum Company CEO Robert Hamaty, whose company sells duty-free cigarettes, said the bill needed to be reworked.

He described proposed jail penalties for certain breaches of the act as extreme and ridiculous.

He also admonished a part of the law that requires retailers selling tobacco products to keep them out of the public’s view.

“I would like to see it [anti-smoking legislation] introduced, but in a more common sense way.”

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