Smoking bans: the global picture

On 31 December 2009, the Cayman Islands joined the growing number of countries and jurisdictions where smoking is banned.

This came more than five years after Ireland, in March 2004, became the first country to ban smoking in all indoor work places, including bars and restaurants.

Similar bans were already in place in some cities and states, including in California where smoking in restaurants and bars have been banned since 1998.

One of the driving forces behind the global push for smoke-free zones is the World Health Organisations’ Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, created in 2004. That treaty has been ratified by more than 160 countries.

The WHO estimates that more than five million people a year die of tobacco-related diseases.

Despite this, according to Dr. Ala Alwan, assistant director-general of the WHO, only 9 per cent of countries mandate smoke-free pubs and restaurants and 65 countries have no smoke-free policies on a national level.

The United Kingdom launched its smoking ban in 2007, prohibiting smoking in bars, restaurants and all places of work.

Now the UK government is considering taking the ban a step further in its bid to halve the number of smokers by 2020 by removing branding from cigarette packets and prohibiting cigarette vending machines. It is also looking at protecting children from second-hand smoke by promoting smoke-free homes and cars.

The country that has implemented the most extensive smoking regulations is the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan which completely outlawed the sale of tobacco products in December 2004.

The smoking ban is in place throughout most European Union countries. Finland is the first country to declare plans to entirely outlaw smoking within the next 30 years. Last month, the government there reveals details of a proposed law which would phase out tobacco vending machines, make it illegal to smoke in a car carrying minors, and ban the display of cigarettes.

Outdoor smoking bans have also been implemented in a number of jurisdictions, including California, Hong Kong and Sydney, Australia. Cayman’s smoking ban extends to its parks, but not to its famed beaches.