Time to ban smoking in public spaces
March 28, 2023

Time to ban smoking in public spaces

IT IS EXTREMELY unfortunate, when those who have chosen not to smoke, find themselves at high risk for dangerous smoking related consequences as a result of being subjected to second-hand smoke generated by persons who chose to or are allowed to smoke in their presence.

Research has shown that there is no safe level of second-hand smoke and inhaling tobacco smoke negatively impacts every organ in the body.

Tobacco smoke remains the number one cause of preventable illnesses and deaths worldwide. The WHO estimates that tobacco smoke costs the economies of the world over 1 trillion USD per year by negatively impacting productivity and ballooning health care expenses. The WHO noted that in 2021, one in every 100 deaths worldwide was a result of breathing in someone else’s tobacco smoke.

Second-hand smoke according to the Oxford Dictionary is “smoke inhaled involuntarily from tobacco being smoked by others”.

The only means of significantly mitigating the impact of second-hand smoke is via the passage, implementation and enforcement of smoke-free laws when it comes to public spaces in order to is to protect the public and workers from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.

It has been shown that such laws also significantly incentivize smokers to reduce their consumption of cigarettes, even quitting in some instances, and these laws also discourage persons, especially the youth, from taking up smoking. In jurisdictions that have passed such laws, businesses have benefited in that more families with their children are more likely to patronize knowing that they are bringing their children to a smoke free environment.

Article 8 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control provides a guide for how public health officials can protect the general public from second-hand smoke. SVG is a signatory of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

On October 1, 2010 Barbados banned smoking in indoor public spaces, workplaces and public transport. Prior to the implementation of the law, the naysayers attempted to use scare tactics to discourage the Barbados government from implementing the smoking ban. They predicted: (i) Barbados will see a fall-off in the number of tourist arrivals, (ii) Hotels, bars, and restaurants will go out of business (iii) There will be a rise in the number of unemployed (iv) Government revenue will plummet.

The first three never materialized. International studies have shown that while public smoking bans resulted in governments initially seeing a dip in their revenue generated from cigarette sales taxes, however, within three to five years, governments (and the country) benefited by way of a significant reduction in sick and disability claims from smoking-related illnesses; additionally there was a marked decrease in the number of people needing to be hospitalized (and dying) from tobacco associated illnesses.

It has been unequivocally shown that the benefits of the smoking ban are seen five years on. In countries that implemented such there was (i) an improvement in respiratory health (ii) a reduction in children’s smoking-related health illnesses (iii) a reduction in heart attacks (iv) a reduction in premature births and low birth weight babies (v) a reduction in the number of smokers.

The wheel does not have to be reinvented, for the St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) Government can review the Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, and / or Jamaican statutes regarding the banning of smoking in public spaces and tweak where necessary.