Vol.21 No.115

Thursday 29 July 2004    

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Editorial
Enforce the anti-smoking ban

Editor
7/29/2004 12:20:33 AM (GMT +2)

THOUGH there is a legislation that prohibits smoking in public places, this seemingly has not discouraged smokers from puffing away everywhere, anytime. There can be only one explanation for this. The law is not being enforced.


A question could be asked. How many people have been punished for contravening this piece of legislation? If there are any, the number is negligible.

The legislation stipulates fines to be meted out to those who smoke in public. But people do as they wish because they know that nothing ever happens to those who choose to play by their own rules. In some companies, managers are known to smoke in the corridors and offices, exposing their subordinates to the dangers of passive smoking.

Though the law supposedly should make it difficult for minors to have access to tobacco products - such as cigarettes - it appears that obtaining cigarettes continues to be as easy as buying sweets. It is known that some shops find nothing wrong in selling cigarettes to minors, even those in school uniform.

It is common to meet schoolchildren in uniform puffing away without a care in the world. More often, these cigarettes are not stolen. They are bought over the counter in broad daylight. The responsibility here does not lie with business outlets alone. It brings into question the responsibility of parents in moulding their children. The parents, who are the major source of pocket money, must demand to know how the money is spent.

As the Minister of Health prepares to bring a new bill to Parliament in a bid to curb public smoking, it is time to look at other loopholes that exist in the present legislation.

As in developed countries that are serious about protecting the health of their young people, shop attendants must demand a purchaser's ID if they suspect them to be under-age, rather than give them the benefit of the doubt, as is presently the case. It is also time to review the prescribed penalties for offenders, and determine if they are really a deterrent.

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