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Healthy Caribbean Coalition - No Room For Smokers !

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First Published Barbados Nation 6th August 2010 - article by Tony Yearwood

Barbados to ban smoking
Minister of Health Donville Inniss (centre), with Chief Medical Officer Dr Joy St John (left) and
Professor Trevor Hassell.

When the ban on smoking in public places comes into effect, don’t even think of having special areas for people who want to light up!

This is the message which the Ministry of Health has for businesses, including rum-shops and bars, after the planned October 1 ban.

Minister of Health Donville Inniss made it clear yesterday, when he announced the impending ban, that Government does not support “smoking rooms” in public establishments.

“We, as a Government, are not going to look and push on people retrofitting their spaces to accommodate smokers,” he said during a breakfast briefing session hosted by the Ministry of Health at Accra Beach Hotel and Resort in Christ Church.

“I think the legislation is very clear. If you wish to go and build an air-conditioned smoker room, understand that that too is against the law because the place is substantially enclosed . . . and therefore [that] will not be tolerated.” Inniss was responding to a question from chief executive officer of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH), Dr Dexter James.

James said that in countries which had signed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) one issue surfacing was whether people had a constitutional right to smoke.

He asked what arrangement would be made to have public places retrofitted to address the rights of smokers when the no-smoking legislation was passed in Barbados. Inniss said that the no-smoking ban would not infringe anyone’s constitutional rights but those who felt aggrieved could use the law courts.

Individuals who choose to smoke, “despite the best possible advice”, can continue to do so but in the privacy of their own places, he remarked.

The Ministry of Health’s Senior Medical Officer, Chronic Diseases, Dr Kenneth George, said Government would not be encouraging designated smoking areas.

“The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and the [coming Barbados legislation] do not make provisions for the areas that allow smoking to occur,” he pointed out.

“So you are not going to have . . . specific areas designated for smoking. The legislation is clear. There are no designated smoking areas on premises. We are moving away from that.”

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