Today’s Editorial for September 16: Smoking legislation welcomed

The news that the Cayman Islands is about to get a law that legislates tobacco use is indeed welcome.

But we have to wonder, is it enough?

One of the main concerns is the exemption of cigar bars under the law.

Cigar bars are defined in the law as ‘a licensed business that caters to patrons who smoke cigars on the premises.’

With cigar bars being so loosely defined we see the potential for any bar in the Cayman Islands to tack ‘and cigar bar’ onto its name.

We could actually see Country and Western Cigar Bar, Hammerheads Brew Pub and Cigar Bar, The Office Lounge and Cigar Bar…the list could go on and on.

Because cigar bars are exempt from the law, cigarette smokers could lawfully elbow up to the bar and light up along with their cigar smoking friends.

While we haven’t seen the regulations under the Tobacco Bill, we do hope this loophole – and any other – has been addressed if Government is serious about giving this country a solid tobacco bill instead of election year politicking.

The citizens of the Cayman Islands have waited far too long for tobacco legislation to come away with a weak law that essentially does nothing but give the government of the day the ability to say tobacco legislation was approved under its watch.

The Tobacco Law proposal allows for segregation of outdoor smoking and non-smoking areas, but there is no buffer zone between the two areas.

Regulations will need to set out how far apart smoking and non-smoking areas of establishments should be.

Cayman has long needed a law on the books that makes it illegal to sell tobacco products to minors, and this law sets out to do that with stiff penalties for retailers caught selling to minors – $5,000 for the first offence and $15,000 for subsequent offences.

That’s pretty fair.

But we think fining premise owners $15,000 for a first offence of not enforcing smoking bans and the $2,000 penalty for offenders smoking in banned public places to be a bit Draconian.

At the end of the day we’re finally getting tobacco legislation, which is sorely needed in the Cayman Islands.

That’s evident by the number of privately owned bars and restaurants that have already instituted self-imposed smoking bans because they see the tide of attitude to tobacco use worldwide changing; it’s no longer a popular thing to do.

We hope that the regulations that come with the new law have some meat in them.