Today’s Editorial January 09: Time to light up or snuff out

It’s time for Government to clear the air on the whole smoking law issue.

Is Cayman going to get smoking legislation or not?

And if it is approved, what is it going to look like?

We still don’t know what regulations will be contained in the law.

When the public was given 60 days to comment on the bill after the law was tabled in the Legislative Assembly last May, many voiced concern that the proposed law is ambiguous, contains errors and is missing the regulations we have alluded to.

Our frustration stems not only from the lack of a Tobacco Law with regulations that we can all see and get accustomed to, it comes from the wall of silence we’re encountering when trying to get Government to respond to our queries about the law.

We rallied behind Government when it announced the proposed Tobacco Law back in mid-2005. Soon three years will have passed and we still have nothing to show for the rhetoric of promised anti-smoking legislation.

If Government has listened to the business and health communities and determined that passage of a strong Tobacco Law at this time wouldn’t be prudent, we’d like to know.

By not answering questions about the law Government is opening itself up to much speculation on the issue; much of it negative.

Cayman wouldn’t be the first country to bite the bullet when it comes to passing anti-smoking legislation.

Many larger countries and indeed municipalities have banned or enacted strict public smoking laws without detriment to their economies.

Yes, Cayman is unique and as such the regulations in the Tobacco Law must conform to what is needed and desired in our own country.

Our point is, we would just like to know what exactly the law says.

Let’s hope that the Government can show us that good, meaningful, well researched and insightful thought has been put in to the regulations that make up the Tobacco Law.

To give us a watered-down version that doesn’t provide enforcement of the law wouldn’t be fair to the citizens of this country. It would only mean that Government was telling us what the majority wanted to hear – that smoking legislation has been approved.

If it’s not time for the legislation with rigorous regulations, then it’s not time.

But it is time to get off the fence.