First-time offenders of the Tobacco Control Regulations may escape the original $50,000 fine as members of a parliamentary committee yesterday proposed a reduction to $5,000.
The committee agreed on the sharp cut in the fines after Chairman Rudyard Spencer spent an extended period trying to get two dissenting members to accept the proposal.
Committee members Dr Dayton Campbell and Hugh Buchanan were not in a mood to accept a recommendation that the fine be adjusted for first-time offenders.
Committee members Denise Daley, Shahine Robinson, and Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert all insisted that they would not support an amount exceeding $5,000.
FINE SHOULD DETER
Buchanan and Campbell had argued that the original fine proposed was intended to act as a deterrent to persons who were in breach of the tobacco regulations.
Campbell warned that the committee could run the risk of watering down the regulations.
"We need to have the political will to make decisions in this country," Campbell asserted.
But Daley hit back, saying she has political will, but noted that she had to "use her conscience" and consider young people who might be smoking tobacco for the first time and found in breach of the regulations.
At the end of the deliberations, the committee members reached a compromise on the fines to be imposed. It was agreed that persons who commit a second offence under the Tobacco Control Regulations should be slapped with a $25,000 fine, and $50,000 for subsequent violations.
Other recommendations made by the committee include designated, outdoor smoking spaces for businesses, no graphic health warnings at point of sale, and that text warnings would be appropriate.