Public Smokers Face Jail

With the implementation of the Tobacco Regulations Control Act as of April 1 smoking in public places will be forbiden.

The Act also restricts the promotion and aertising of tobacco products, which will only be permitted under stringent conditions that are aimed at discouraging the use of those products.

The legislation also compels tobacco companies to sell cigarettes in plain packaging as is currently the case in several European and Asian countries.

The Act further restricts tobacco vending machines to controlled areas where entrance is subjected to an 18-year-old age limit.

The proposed packaging should feature graphic pictures depicting the ill health associated with smoking. These range from stained teeth, throat cancer to damaged lungs and breast cancer with appropriate warnings underneath the picture.

The Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Richard Kamwi, yesterday stressed that within three months (from July 1), there will be no smoking allowed in public places, while warning signs must be displayed at all points of tobacco sale. The sale of tobacco products to persons under 18 will also be prohibited.

Smoking prohibition signs must be displayed at all public places, and specific oversight duties must be implemented by owners and persons in charge of public places.

Any person who contravenes or fails to comply with regulations of the Act would be committing an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding N$4 000 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year or to both such fine and such imprisonment, the regulations under the Tobacco Regulations Control Act indicate.

Fines payable upon breaking the law on smoking can go up to N$200 000 or imprisonment of up to 10 years, according to the Act.

Kamwi was speaking at a two-day stakeholders meeting on deliberations on the Tobacco Products Control Act No. 1 of 2010.

Kamwi announced that there would no longer be smoking in public spaces such as shopping malls, sports fields, schools, workplaces, restaurants, airport lounges and public transport.

“Today, we are all here to make these important life-saving measures a reality. I would like to assure you that the Ministry of Health and Social Services will take all the necessary measures and provide all possible support. For this to happen we will also depend on the dedication and commitment of all our stakeholders and the whole cooperation of all Namibian citizens,” said the minister.

Kamwi warned that anyone who violates the regulations would be dealt with by law. “That’s why we have law enforcement agents, they are fully mandated to carry it out. They will be taken to task. That’s why we brought that piece of legislation this year with all the provisions, they will pay. Failure to pay they will be incarcerated in prison,” he warned.

Health inspectors would be appointed in the different regions to monitor and identify the culprits. “In terms of this law they will be authorised to get into all the places, premises to inspect . If they suspect something they will get in. And we will deal with them accordingly,” said the minister.

Kamwi said the ministry waited three years and 11 months for the implementation of the Act, pointing out that the British and American tobacco industries were the main culprits in the delay.

“I want to point to point out that Namibia is not the only country that has been targeted by the tobacco industry. There is increasing pressure from the tobacco industry globally, which is hampering progress in implementation of the WHO framework convention on tobacco control in many countries,” he said.

The tobacco industry uses international trade and investment instruments as a justification to increase the sale and use of tobacco products.

“In many countries, the perception of the health and trade sector ministries is largely confined to their respective mandates. This has left a gap for the tobacco industry to interfere in the implementation of solid regulatory measures,” Kamwi said.

Source : New Era