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Smoking ban sparks debate

Carol-Ann Tudor

Smoking ban sparks debate

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The announcement by Minister of Health Donville Inniss of no public smoking from October 1 has brought much heated debate.While some Barbadians are behind Government’s proposed ban, others feel it is their right to smoke anywhere. And, there are those who believe that with the new law Government should provide specially designated smoking areas.The legislation which seeks to protect vulnerable individuals and groups from the harmful effects of second-hand tobacco smoke comes with some strict regulations and stiff fines.Smokers found guilty of breaking the regulations may face a $500 fine or a 12-month prison term, or both. Proprietors found guilty of allowing people to smoke under their roof may also be fined $5 000 or be imprisoned for 12 months, or both.Among those who will be affected are the rum shops.The SUNDAY SUN team visited a number of rum shops in St Michael to canvass owners and patrons about the ban.Over at Glendene’s Bar in Brittons Hill, St Michael, a heated discussion ensued between regulars – the smokers and non-smokers.“I is to go home and smoke my cigarette when I buy it at the shop? I smoking it de same place! Tell Government if dem want people to stop smoking, stop importing cigarettes,” one man fumed. “My sister is a Christian, and I can’t go home and smoke them there.” Another, who lit up his cigarette while he spoke, said he smoked about 50 cigarettes a day and won’t be stopping.“And it killing me!” said ‘Dr Hooks’. “There is nothing good about smoking; the smokers don’t have any respect for people like me. “They should have instituted this [ban] a long time ago,” Hooks argued.Selwyn, who was also puffing, joined the debate. “All these proprietors going be in trouble. It will be hell for these shopkeepers to keep people from smoking. If they ban smoking, these shopkeepers and the drinkers will be at odds,” he stated.Shopowner Glendene Gollop said she knew when the time came she would be affected, but that she wouldn’t be getting in to trouble for anybody.Elma’s Bar & Grocery also in Brittons Hill had already instituted the no smoking ban.“For years it has been like this, because I suffer with allergies and asthma. So those who come here already know there can be no smoking,” owner Elma said. “If they want to light up, I ask them to step outside; and if it’s a problem, then I tell them to leave the shop. This is over 40 years I have been running this shop and I don’t encourage smoking in here.” One of her faithful customers, Jerry Ishmael, said he was glad the ban would be imposed, and was “looking forward to the day”. Mahogany Restaurant in Culloden Road was also displaying a No Smoking sign. Owner Eunice Campbell said the rule had been in place for over two years now.“Most of my customers here suffer with sinus problems. So those who want to smoke usually go outside to accommodate the others here; so it won’t be affecting me,” she said.At Clarke’s Variety in Corday Avenue, Bayville, owner Winston Clarke said he only sold “loose cigarettes” occasionally, but felt the measures were a bit strict, and that areas should be designated for those who wanted to smoke.Turkey, a patron, said smokers were a part of the community and should be given their own corner to smoke in.“They can’t just ban smoking like that!” Selvin Gill spoke frankly and fully.“Wisdom is too high for a fool. Any time you are going to ban smoking, then they have to ban all the vehicles on the road dat killing we wid de smoke. “Who dem tink dem talking to? I ain’t see de boy dat going stop me from smoking wherever I choose. Stupidity is not commonsense.”At Henry’s Bar in Nelson Street, owner Henry Cyrus felt it would be hard for shopkeepers to stop a person from smoking.“If people are accustomed drinking and smoking already, it will be hard then to tell them they can’t. Right now you have some people who even when they drink too much, you can’t get them out of the shop! “This thing will take a while to settle in,” he suggested.