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Ban on smoking at sporting facilities looms

Published:Monday | June 4, 2012 | 12:00 AM

A proposed regulation, which will form part of the anticipated tobacco law, will see the banning of smoking at sporting venues, including Sabina Park and the National Stadium.

The extent of the ban will depend on how public spaces are defined, according to Chief Medical Officer Dr Eva Lewis-Fuller, who took part in a Gleaner Editors' Forum on tobacco, held at the newspaper's central Kingston offices last week.

"Some countries define an enclosed space, as any space that has two boundaries; it could be one wall and a roof or two walls," Lewis-Fuller explained. "Therefore, the grandstand at the stadium would be defined as an enclosed space because it has a roof coming over and you have the back wall. The National Arena is definitely an enclosed space and grandstand at Sabina Park; they too can be defined as enclosed spaces because they have a roof covering and they have a back wall," she added.

The criteria under which a facility will be deemed an enclosed space has not yet been decided, as discussions on the matter are still being held.

Based on the current considerations, only the grandstand area will be classified as an enclosed space while the bleachers section would not meet the criteria at this point in time. The Ministry of Health is, however, contemplating imposing a ban on smoking at sporting facilities whether or not certain boundaries exist.

Special cases

"In some countries, regardless of the structure, as long as it is a sporting facility, it is defined as an enclosed space just by virtue of being a sporting facility, so this is being considered as well," Lewis-Fuller disclosed.

The suggested law, which is just at the conceptual stage, will have to get Cabinet approval for an independent comprehensive law to be drafted. The Ministry of Heath will then give drafting instructions to the chief parliamentary counsel, which means the proposed law is not close to fruition.

Major Desmon Brown, general manager of Independence Park Limited (IPL), which manages the National Stadium complex, is hoping that the law will be enacted in short order.

"We strongly support it (a ban on smoking) and we are hoping that it will come in place very soon because a lot of patrons complain and I can really understand them," Brown shared. "We have been pushing for a ban on smoking for a long time because the problem I have in the Stadium is when you sit down and somebody comes besides you and lights a cigarette, and hopefully that's all they light, but sometimes they light a little bit more than that."

He added: "Persons can't move because they have paid for that seat and it is causing serious health problems and just disturbing the people."