Aug 04, 2017 News
Like Demerara Tobacco Company Limited (DEMTOCO), the Private Sector Commission is appealing for policy makers to send the rigid Tobacco Control Bill to a special select committee.
The Commission said it has taken note of the expressed views on the Tobacco Control Bill and appreciates the international obligations that were signed on to by Guyana. The Commission said, too, that it is aware of the reasons for the introduction of the Bill as well as the hazards which it addresses.
The Private Sector Commission said, “Guyana has, over many years, come a long way in controlling the practice of smoking in public places and the public as well as various operators of bars, hotels, cinemas, other businesses and smokers themselves should be applauded.”
The business association added, “We are aware that the Government of Guyana believes that the World Health Organisation’s Protocols dictate that Government should not engage in dialogue with the tobacco industry. The Private Sector Commission views this as an inconsistency. Ours is an independent jurisdiction called Guyana and most democracies were built on dialogue.”
With the foregoing in mind, the Commission stressed that the Special Select Committee of Parliament is a platform which belongs to the people of Guyana and therefore joined in the call by the tobacco industry to refer the Bill to that forum.
The Private Sector Commission sought to urge the Government to address the civil rights issues contained in the Bill through the utilisation of the process of the Select Committee of Parliament.
TOBACCO CONTROL BILL
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—the Tobacco Control Bill. 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.
In fact, any person who denies, obstructs or hinders an authorized officer in carrying out 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 Bill, 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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