Today’s Editorial for October 21: Smoking legislation a starting point

Residents and visitors to the Cayman Islands can more easily breathe a clean sigh of relief with the passage of tobacco legislation.

While there are still some concerns about some of the exemptions associated with the new law, legislators seem to agree the passage of this law is just the start of the fight against tobacco use in the Cayman Islands.

Basically, once it has been signed off on by the Governor and Gazetted, the new law will ban smoking in a host of public places including parks, factories and workplaces, office buildings, health care facilities, common areas in apartment buildings and all condos, educational institutions and their precincts, and on all forms of commercial and public transport.

It doesn’t ban smoking on beaches, which we don’t quite understand, and it allows for smoking in outside venues and exempts cigar bars.

There is a real fear that every pub will now want to become cigar bars too, so as not to lose cigarette smoking customers, although Health Minister Anthony Eden has assured us that the high cost of installing the required ventilation is likely to quickly snuff out those ideas.

This piece of legislation isn’t just a coupe for those who don’t smoke and don’t want to breathe in second-hand smoke; it is also telling those who work in our service industries like bars and restaurants that we do care about their health. They will no longer have to breathe in the smoke of others who enjoy lighting up after dinner or over a glass of wine.

The fact that the law had bipartisan support in the Legislative Assembly shows that members of our elected government can work together.

Kudos to Mr. Eden for finally getting this legislation approved and to all our elected members for their support.

This law is just one of the ways that legislation can mean a healthier Cayman Islands for all of us.

We now need that same bipartisan support for recycling legislation.

While we are attempting to improve the quality of our air, we continue to heap mounds and mounds of recyclable trash onto Mount Trashmore, and who knows what toxins are running off that beast and contaminating our earth and groundwater.

It’s taken a long time for the tobacco bill to finally make it to the Legislative Assembly for our leaders to approve.

We commend all of those who kept the tobacco legislation issue at the forefront, insisting that something be approved. Particular credit must go to the Cayman Islands Cancer Society, which has campaigned aggressively for anti-smoking legislation and continues to work tirelessly to protect the health of all people in the Cayman Islands.

This is just the starting point, though. As we learn to live and work with the new law we will see ways it can be improved. It is our hope that future members of the Legislative Assembly will react in a timely and positive light when making the necessary amendments.