MONTEGO BAY – Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, has called on citizens to get familiar with the new Regulations barring tobacco smoking in public places, to ensure that their right to a smoke free environment is obeyed.
“The citizens of Jamaica must be the police of these Regulations, not just the formal Police Force. My intention is not to lock up anybody, or for anyone to go to prison because of cigarette smoking. What we want to do is to raise the consciousness of our people through consistent public education about tobacco use, so that people will recognize and become empowered in relation to the evils of tobacco smoking,” the Minister emphasized.
Dr. Ferguson was speaking at a contract signing ceremony for expansion of the Haemodialysis Unit at the Cornwall Regional Hospital, in Montego Bay, on August 2.
“Even as I will be making some concessions relative to the fines and the removal of custodial sentence, we don’t want to make any criminals out of smokers. What we want to do is to send a stern signal to persons that we are serious about these regulations,” the Minister said.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, who is also Member of Parliament for West Central St. James, addressing contract signing ceremony for the expansion of the Haemodialysis Unit at the Cornwall Regional Hospital, in St. James, on August 2, at the offices of the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA).
“When someone smokes in your presence, in a no smoking area, you must have the courage to say ‘this is a no smoking zone’. We don’t intend to clog the court system, because we recognize that tobacco smoking is an addiction, and it is not easy to pull back, but we must protect our non-smokers, we must protect our children, and we must protect our workers,” Dr. Ferguson said.
The Minister argued that when citizens continuously demand their right to a smoke free public space, the Police, over time, will not have any need to prosecute persons, as the regulations would be observed by the few who smoke.
Dr. Ferguson said his firm stance and commitment against smoking in public places, is to preserve the good of the public, even the smokers themselves.
For her part, Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Mrs. Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, who is also Member of Parliament for West Central St. James, commended Dr. Ferguson for his “courage to take the bull by its horns.”
“There are more persons with you, than are against you,” the State Minister told the audience.
CONTACT: GARFIELD L. ANGUS
JIS REGIONAL OFFICE