Up in smoke | Ban on lighting up in public places mostly ignored
Described at the time of its ratification in Parliament as the most far-reaching piece of public health policy, the ban on smoking in public spaces has all but gone through the door.
It has got so bad that even some persons who are guilty of the offence admit that it has got out of hand.
Now almost four years since the Public Health (Tobacco Control) Regulations, 2013, came into full effect, there is little proof that the authorities have found a way to stop smoking in public spaces.
Visits to a number of bars across Kingston on Tuesday - as a matter of fact, just journeying throughout the Corporate Area - confirmed what was already known: that lighting up a cigarette or a spliff in public remains a free-for-all and common practice.
"Of course, mi know it illegal, but realistically, which person me talk to is going to listen and go smoke outside or even put out him cigarette?" asked one bar operator who goes by the name 'Rosie'.
She said it was an impossible task getting the cooperation of the men and women who smoke not to light up.
"Sometimes you tell dem and is pure cuss out de most way me get, or dem just ignore me altogether. In dat case, what am I to do? We need the money because a business we a run, but at the same time, I think the authorities like the police may have to just start visit to make sure it nuh happen," Rosie explained.
HARD NOT TO SMOKE
Nadine Lewis, a 42-year-old confessed former cocaine user and habitual smoker, told The Gleaner that she started smoking before she was 10 years old and that while she was fully aware of the ban, it was hard for her not to smoke.
"Trust me, I know smoking in a de public is wrong, but me really can't help it. I depend on cigarette to calm me down," Lewis said.
"No, sah. Me hear about it, but nobody never yet get fi go court about dat as far I know," Raphel Simister said before drawing on his Craven A-branded cigarette.
Another bar operator stated that she had no control over who wanted to smoke in her place as she couldn't throw people out for taking a 'draw'.
As part of an international move, on July 15, 2013, Jamaica banned smoking in all enclosed places; on public transportation, in workplaces; government buildings; health facilities; sports, athletics, and recreational facilities; educational facilities; areas specifically for use by children; and places of collective use such as bus stops.
Persons can be fined up to $10,000 for breaches of the regulations, with a second offence carrying a fine of up to $25,000. For subsequent offences, a person may be fined up to $50,000.
Businesses, including clubs, bars, restaurants, and tourist establishments that breach the regulations may be fined up to $1 million.