Brigdgetown - Oct. 3, 2010 --Barbados Oct 1 enacted legislation banning the smoking of tobacco in public places in accordance with the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). 

Minister of Health, Donville Inniss, signalled his Government's commitment to this by posting a "No Smoking Permitted" sign on the Frank Walcott Building at Culloden Road, where his Ministry is headquartered.

"It is very much in keeping with the Ministry of Health's Preventative Strategy we are focusing on these days," Mr. Inniss said.  He noted, however, that there was a lot more Barbadians could do to better manage their health challenges.

He stressed: "We are all very much aware of the harmful effects of tobacco smoke not only to those who smoke, but unfortunately those who have to deal with second-hand smoke. And, what we are doing here today is sending a clear message that we want Barbados to be a smoke-free society as far as possible."

Acknowledging that the Ministry had clearly defined the term ‘public places' and outlined the fines attached, he added: "We wish that moral suasion would continue to work and that we will continue the downward trend of smoking in Barbados. It is not just about the smokers, but those who work in the bars and nightclubs and the other public establishments who often feel so helpless and hopeless, in terms of not being able to get away from a smoke-free environment."

The Health Minister also lamented the situation with tobacco smoking.  He stressed: "And, then when you lose your mother or daughter or son to the ravages of cancer and other illnesses associated with smoking, then sometimes people say ‘I wish someone had done something earlier' or ‘I wish I had lent my voice to the cause'."

In praising the introduction of the legislation, the Health Minister observed that Barbados was a "very responsible society" and "we would ensure we adhere to the laws of the land". He commended Ministry staff and others across the public sector that played their part in the development and implementation of the legislation and particularly singled out Dr. Tony Gale from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Barbados for remaining in the forefront of the fight.

 The FCTC, the first public health treaty initiated by the World Health Organisation in 2003, aims specifically to curtail the burden of disease caused by tobacco use.

Conceptualised as a response to the globalisation of the tobacco epidemic, it gives priority to the rights of people to protect their health. Its key objective is the protection of present and future generations from the disability and premature death that is occasioned by tobacco consumption and exposure.

The FCTC is also viewed as an instrument for mobilising governments, non-governmental organisations and other stakeholders to take action to significantly reduce the prevalence of tobacco use and by extension associated chronic non-communicable diseases.

The Government of Barbados is signatory to the FCTC and, as such, has taken steps to implement its provisions. The legislation amends the Health Services (Prohibition of Tobacco Smoking in Public Places) Regulations, 2010) Act. It prohibits smoking in public places and an occupier of a public place from permitting a person to smoke. jgill@barbados.gov.bb