Today’s Editorial for December 30: Smoking ban has arrived

Whether you agree with tobacco legislation that comes into force at midnight, it really doesn’t matter.

At 12.01 Thursday morning there will be a new enforceable law on the books in the Cayman Islands that prohibits people from lighting up cigarettes, cigars and pipes in public places.

And many places where people will be ringing in the New Year Thursday night into the wee hours of Friday morning are bars, which are considered public places.

Many people will begin the celebrations early Thursday afternoon and must remember that they cannot smoke at the bar while consuming adult beverages.

Bar owners will also have to make sure that they keep their patrons in line.

So too will taxi drivers.

The ban covers enclosed bars, restaurants and pool halls, parks, any commercial transport, public toilets, public transportation terminals, such as the cruise terminal, and all shops and shopping centres.

Signs are supposed to be displayed at all public places informing customers of the new smoking ban, but some bar and restaurant owners say they don’t know anything about the new law.

That’s probably bunk.

Getting a smoking ban law passed in the Cayman Islands has been a long, bumpy row to hoe.

Former Health Minister Gilbert McLean first announced he would push for the measure in early 2005. After the change in government in May 2005, the People’s Progressive Movement said it would proceed with introducing anti-smoking legislation, which was finally tabled before the Legislative Assembly in March 2007.

There was public consultation and the law was supposed to be enacted in May, was delayed until October and then put off again because the proper regulations hadn’t been put in place.

Now we’ll finally get a chance to see how the law works. It will be interesting to see if Government is serious about enforcing the law and if those who violate it – customers and business owners alike – are prosecuted.

It is our hope that this new law will have a positive impact in some people’s lives when it causes them to quit smoking.