Smoking ban threatens freedom - Opposition
Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter
SOUTH WEST St Catherine Member of Parliament Everald Warmington yesterday castigated Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson for poor judgement in not tabling in Parliament the regulations which impose a ban on smoking in public spaces.
Delroy Chuck, Warmington's colleague and leader of opposition business in the House of Representatives, supported his argument, saying the minister introduced the ban "in a way that threatens the freedom of the Jamaican people".
Chuck charged that before the minister took steps to impose the ban on smoking in public spaces "and threaten people with huge fines", the ordinary citizens should be made aware of the breaches in the regulations.
"You need to put a hold until you fully present those regulations - present them in the House, publicise them in the press and let the people know - because unless they know, it is unfair to prosecute (them)," Chuck added.
He urged the minister to advise the police not to enforce the regulations until they were properly circulated.
SCANT REGARD FOR LEGISLATORS
Warmington had accused the minister of having scant regard for his fellow legislators with regard to the regulations.
"This House is supreme authority for this country… . How can the minister gazette something that took effect on July 15 and then he is coming next week or some other time to validate what he is doing?" Warmington questioned.
In his response, Ferguson agreed that he should have tabled the regulations in Parliament before they took effect; however, he said the regulations would be tabled in the House next Tuesday.
The health minister made it clear that the effective July 15 date of the ban would not be changed.
He noted that the Public Health Act gave him sweeping powers to introduce regulations.
Ferguson gave a commitment to amend the Public Health Act to make it a requirement that amendments to the statute should have affirmative action from Parliament.