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Call for law to ban public smoking

Mike King

Call for law to ban public smoking

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Chairman of the  National Council For The Prevention of Alcohol and Drug Dependency (NCPADD), Pastor Victor Roach, says that successive Governments have been slow to enact legislation banning smoking in public places.Roach chose the occasion of World No Tobacco Day to make this charge at the True Vine Faith Church on Goodland Main Road before an audience that included Member of  Parliament (MP) for the area, Michael Carrington.“Since the call (to ban smoking publicly) was first supported by Cabinet in August 2000, ten years have passed and we have nothing to show for it. This is a situation that continues to be untenable when you consider the problems that are associated with tobacco use, the social dislocation and the family and personal trauma,’’ he said.Carrington had a slight variance with Pastor Roach. The Speaker of the House of Assembly signed a book yesterday backing the banning, but thinks smokers should be partially accommodated at public places.“The fight is not going to be taken much further with scare tactics or with the sledge hammer approach. I think that we have seen over and over again in Barbados that the approach which has worked for us in the past is one where we seek to educate or agitate.”Carrington said the results would be better if  the emphasis remained on those two measures.He praised NCPADD for the sterling contribution it had made over the last 20 years, saying it had done much to sensitise and inform Barbadians on health issues.Roach said tobacco was indirectly responsible for several illnesses.“The medical community has said in loud, clear and distinct tones that one of the factors that predispose people to the chronic non-communicable diseases – the cancer, diabetes, the cardio-vascular diseases – is tobacco, and so to isolate tobacco and give it preferential status and treat it with kid gloves . . . does not augur well for the future. We are asking people to redouble their efforts to put pressure on Government to introduce the appropriate ban as soon as possible.”Roach was delighted to have major support from the public at the recent BMEX exhibition, where more than a thousand Barbadians (1 155) signed a petition supporting the banning of smoking in public places.“The support that has come through BMEX cannot be measured purely in terms of the statistics. What was important was the discussion among people who were surprised that there is still no legislation in place for banning.”Roach told the congregation that included the church’s pastor John Gaskin that there was plenty of support among Barbadians for the banning of smoking in public places.“We know that the Ministry of Health has had a risk factor survey that indicates that proprietors, employees and patrons support the banning of public smoking in Barbados. But we did not say that in 2003, the survey also included other people, and in each category it was 90 per cent support,” he stated.