Today’s Editorial May 11: Tobacco law implementation disappointing

Thank goodness that as of 1 May minors are no longer allowed to legally buy tobacco products in the Cayman Islands.

It seems silly that any civilised society would actually need a law that stops retailers from selling tobacco products to kids. Under The Tobacco Law 2008, a minor is defined as someone who is younger than 18 years of age.

While there are many minors in our midst who look 18 or older, it will be incumbent on those approved to sell tobacco products to check identification before selling the products.

Retailers who are caught selling tobacco products to minors face an initial fine of $5,000. That fine increases to $15,000 for subsequent offences. We hope that’s enough deterrent to keep tobacco sellers in check.

While we applaud this section of the Tobacco Law being implemented on 1 May, we are sorely disappointed that the entire Tobacco Law isn’t going to be enforced until October.

We do appreciate Government letting us know before the General Election that the legislation won’t go into force on 31 May as planned.

But we are disappointed that enforcement measures have not been put in to place for this law to go to work at the end of this month.

Tobacco legislation has been a topic of much discussion and study since there was the promise of such a law back in 2005. There has been ample time to implement regulations and procedures to make this legislation work.

A statement from the Ministry of Health and Human Services that said there is no point in bringing the law into effect if it can’t be enforced is, in our opinion, bunk.

There are copious amounts of laws on the books of the Cayman Islands that don’t contain enforcement or procedure regulations.

The Tobacco Law already sets a fine of $15,000 for business owners that don’t adhere to the smoking ban in the first instance and for the fine to increase to $30,000 or 12 months jail time for subsequent offences. It even provides for fines for individuals caught smoking illegally in public places, from a first time fine of $2,000 to a $10,000 fine for a subsequent conviction.

We wonder, what is there to not understand? If a smoking ban is in place in public places and it is violated, someone(s) is charged with being in violation of the law.

We hope that those involved with this legislation will use the time between now and 30 October to do the right thing and get this legislation in force once and for all.