BRIDGETOWN, Barbados: The nation’s largest manufacturer of cigarettes is supporting legislation that will restrict smoking in indoor public places beginning October 1.
Brydens Barbarees Limited (BBL) gave its backing in a statement last weekend, but stressed the need to consider the rights of both smokers and non-smokers.
In its statement, BBL acknowledged that smoke-filled environments can be uncomfortable and a reason for concern for some people. However, it also recognizes the rights of smokers and stressed that any regulatory initiative must take into consideration the interests of both groups.
“We do not believe that people should be allowed to smoke anywhere. However, appropriate areas should be made available so that smokers – whether citizens or tourists – do not experience social exclusion. Therefore, we hope rum shop smoking patrons maintain their right to smoke outside these venues,” the BBL statement said.
The company said that smokers in outdoor areas like pool decks, beaches, etc., are not to be penalized for smoking, since total smoking bans in outdoor areas have a substantial negative impact on the income of certain sectors of the hospitality industry.
“In fact, very few countries have adopted total smoking bans. Worldwide, total smoking bans in public places are the exception, not the rule. Therefore, we ask the Barbados authorities to consider a balanced approach to public-place smoking, for the benefit of the entire population and retailers,” the BBL statement said.
The statement added that many countries have opted for regulation that takes smokers and non-smokers into consideration, creating designated outdoor smoking areas.
While announcing the ban last week, Health Minister Donville Inniss said the creation of special areas inside public establishments would be illegal under the new legislation, which had not been taken before Parliament as of press time.
Senior Medical Officer with responsibility for Chronic Diseases, Dr. Kenneth George, said neither the UN Framework Convention on Tobacco Control nor the anti-smoking legislation makes provisions for any designated areas for smokers.
Under the proposed law, smokers found guilty of breaking the law face a maximum BDS$500 (US$250) fine or a 12-month prison term, or both.
Proprietors and operators of bars, restaurants, shops, hotels, government buildings and other public buildings will also be expected to comply with no smoking legislation.
Those found guilty of allowing people to smoke in a public place could be fined as much as BDS$5,000 (US$2,500), be sent to prison for 12 months, or both. If they fail to display no-smoking signs in at least two prominent places, as specified in the law, or hinder inspectors from ensuring that the laws are being enforced, they face similar punishment.