Jul 29, 2017 News
In a matter of nine months, Guyana will be preparing to implement one of the most regimented health laws it has ever had in recent times. This comes in the form of the Tobacco Control Bill that was passed Thursday night after an exhaustive debate in the National Assembly.
The Bill proposes a number of strict penalties and fines for law breakers; it will seek to encourage a new behaviourial pattern amongst Guyanese.
The Bill will allow for officers authorized by the Ministry of Public Health to be vested with the power to carry out any inspection, investigation or enforcement for the purposes of the Bill.
It states that where a Customs officer or police officer exercises legal powers to seize and detain any article reasonably believed not to be compliant with the law, that article may at the option of that officer be kept or stored in the building or place where it was seized. The officer also has the power to remove the object and have it stored at any other proper place.
It goes on to state that where any seized and detained item is reasonably believed not to meet the legal requirements under the law, it may be confiscated and kept as evidence for legal proceedings.
The Bill cautions that any person without lawful authority who removes, alters or interferes in any way with any article ordered to be stored under the law commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $400,000 and imprisonment for six months.
In fact, any person who denies, obstructs or hinders an authorized officer in carrying out of his or her duties; or knowingly makes any false or misleading statements, verbally or in writing, or refuses to provide requested information to an authorized officer, commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $400,000 and imprisonment for six months.
Additionally, the Bill states that no person shall smoke in the following outdoor places— anywhere on the premises of and within five metres from the outside boundaries of any health care, educational or child care facility; any waiting area or queue in a public place, including but not limited to any public transport stop, bus stand or bus park; any park, playground or amusement park; any stadium, arena, or other kind of sport or performance space; any gazetted site of historic or national significance; any space for the commercial service of food or drink; or any other outdoor place prescribed by regulations.
The Bill also lists examples of indoor public places where smoking is now prohibited. These include Retail establishments, including stalls, stores, shops, and shopping malls; hotels and other places of lodging; Restaurants, bars, pubs, cafes, and other eating or drinking establishments, Gaming machine venues and casinos; Entertainment facilities including clubs, cinemas, concert halls, theatres, game arcades, pool and bingo halls.
Smoking according to the Act is also prohibited at any publicly-owned facility rented out for events and any other indoor premises accessible to the public and any indoor workplace.
Any person who smokes in any place where smoking is prohibited commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $10,000 for the first offence, and $20,000 for any second or subsequent offence.
Additionally, the Bill makes it clear that all cigarettes shall be sold in an intact package containing not less than twenty sticks or individual units per package. This brings an end to the sale of one or two cigarettes at regular outlets.
The Bill also states that no person shall go into any public place carrying any tobacco product, electronic delivery system, or component, in a tray, container or otherwise for the purpose of making sales or commercially displaying the product.
Furthermore, the Bill prohibits tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship. In this regard, local night clubs would have to change for example, the manner in which they promote their hookah /smoking themed parties.
Should a corporation or other entity contravene any provision of the Act, it shall be deemed to have committed the offence and shall be held liable for all costs and fines associated with any enforcement or corrective action and for any term of imprisonment ordered.
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