Today’s Editorial December 28: Why must we wait?

Why is it that when it comes to the quality of life and health, Caymanian society seems hopelessly inferior to those in North American and Europe?

It is now beyond dispute among reasonable people that tobacco smoke is harmful to employees and patrons in confined or even partially confined settings. Long ago, many countries began finally surrendered to the obvious and banned smoking from libraries, airplanes, offices and other public places. More recently, societies have moved to ban smoking from restaurants and bars. Following earlier moves to do this in Ireland and Scotland, England imposed similar laws this past summer.

Again, this is obviously the right thing to do, if for no other reason than the right of the employees of restaurants and bars to work in an environment that offers air that is safe to breathe. But what about the Cayman Islands? Still, we wait.

Leaded gasoline was once available at every gas station in Europe and North America. No more. When scientists made clear the dangers of leaded fuel, big governments of the world were slow to respond. And the Cayman Islands were no better. The National Academy of Sciences declared that leaded gasoline was the leading cause of atmospheric pollution as far back as 1980. That fact, coupled with the fact that lead is devastating to human health, should have been enough for Cayman to act rapidly and ban leaded fuel. We could have been the first society in the world to ban leaded fuel. But we were not.

Why the lag time when the health and quality of life for our people is at stake? For what possible reason must we wait for years while other societies react to obvious needs for change? Why must we sit and watch countries with massive and cumbersome bureaucracies move faster than ours?

There is no need for us to always wait to follow the lead of bigger nations. We can read science journals ourselves and make decisions on our own. Given the size of our country and its government, we should be faster, not slower, than nations with many millions of citizens.

Caymanians are every bit as capable of responding rapidly with new legislation that reflects current science. We wait only because we fail to expect better from our leaders and from ourselves.

We deserve the safest and healthiest society possible. We can and should be leaders, not followers, when it comes to the health of our people.

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