Tobacco Law delayed again

Caymanian smokers can rest easy. The anti tobacco law is going to miss yet another deadline.

Required regulations will not be ready to meet the 30 October deadline to fully implement the Tobacco Law, making it the second delay since the law was passed one year ago.

Government missed a deadline of 31 May, which was set by the previous government, to coincide with World No Tobacco Day.

Just 11 days prior to the 31 May deadline a new Government was voted in and Mark Scotland took the helm as Health Minister.

Despite the fact that there was a 60day consultation period, a Chamber of Commerce luncheon and other forums seeking input on the Tobacco Law, Mr. Scotland said the regulations just aren’t ready.

‘I have seen the draft of the regulations and it is all marked up with corrections or revisions,’ said Mr. Scotland. ‘So it is a small delay, probably the end of November or December.’

Director of the Cancer Society Christine Sanders said another delay in implementing the Tobacco law is not good for Cayman.

‘The delay means that more people will be put at risk for developing cancer as a result of second hand smoke exposure,’ said Ms Sanders.

The only part of the Tobacco law that has been implemented is a ban on selling tobacco to minors, which came into effect on 1 May, coinciding with the start of Child Month in the Cayman Islands.

Even without legislation in place, many restaurants and bars have implemented non-smoking policies indoors with some establishments going completely smoke-free.

‘That is the trend,’ said Ms Sanders.

Once the regulations are in effect, the law will ban smoking in bars, restaurants and places of collective use.

But smoking outdoors will still be permitted at least 10 feet away from the entrance to buildings.

Cigar bars are exempted but they will be required to install smoke extractors or ventilators within 12 months of the regulations being implemented.

The delay in introducing the Tobacco Law comes when countries around the world and throughout the Caribbean have introduced smoking bans.

Bermuda began enforcing a smoking ban in October 2006. Puerto Rico went further in March 2007 extending the ban on smoking in confined places including private cars with children younger than 13 inside. The British Virgin Islands followed suit in mid-2007 with a ban on smoking in all confined places.

Cuba has banned smoking in most work places, cigarette machines have been removed and it has been illegal to sell tobacco products close to schools since February 2005.