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Ban on smoking in public places takes effect today

Several organisations are now marching in three towns across Jamaica in support of the ban on smoking in public places. The marches began around 8 a.m. in Morant Bay, St Thomas; Half-Way Tree, St Andrew; and Montego Bay, St James.

The march is organised by the National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA), the Heart Foundation of Jamaica, Jamaica Coalition for Tobacco Control and the Jamaica Cancer Society.

Health Minister, Dr Fenton Ferguson, announced the ban on June 25 in the House of Representatives during his contribution to the Sectoral Debate. Persons who breach the new regulations could be fined up to $500,000 or face six months imprisonment. But at a press briefing after the announcement, the Ministry of Health’s legal officer, Sheryl Dennis, said fines could be more than doubled for a second offence. Dennis said the penalties would be applied to owners, managers and lessees of premises where breaches of the regulations occur. She said persons could be fined up to $50,000 or sentenced to a prison term of three months for a first offence. Ferguson has said suggestions for the establishment of smoking rooms will not be accepted.

Jamaica will join Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname as CARICOM countries with legislation outlawing smoking in public places.