Smoke free public places

This article was first published on Facebook on December 4, 2012

Efforts to curb the tobacco epidemic in the Maldives have been put for a long time. In the Maldives, in the 1980’s, some regulations were passed to ban smoking in some public places, such as governemnt offices, sport facilities and so forth.

One of the key measures to curb the tobacco menace is to declare public places smoke free. This is addressed in the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (http://www.who.int/fctc/text_download/en/index.html), Articles on Protection from Exposure to Smoke. Maldives, being a Party to FCTC, require to develop and implement a legal framework to control tobacco.

In year 2010, the Tobacco Control Law (15/2010, http://www.mvlaw.gov.mv/pdf/ganoon/chapterII/15-2010.pdf) was passed by the Majlis and ratified by the President after years of deliberation. The first draft of the Maldives Tobacco Control Law was made as early as 2005. The current Law, compared to the initial drafts, is a much weaker piece of legislation.

Although this may be the case, the Law is currently in force and regulation on smoke free public places under this Law will come into effect from January 1, 2012.

So what are the public places that are and or will be declared smoke free?

There are two sets of places, one, those that are specifically stated in the Law and two, those that are specified in the Regulation (R-41/2012, http://www.health.gov.mv/PDF/Tobacco/Dhunfathuge%20Isthiumaalukurun%20Manaa%20Thanthan%20Kanda-alhaa%20Qawaaidhu.pdf).

According to the Law, Chapter 1, Article 3, the following are smoke free public places. (not an official translation)

  • Workplaces and parts of workplaces as specified in regulations made under this Law
  • Cinemas and meeting halls
  • Public vehicles, places and or part or parts of places used for transport as specified in regulations made under this Law
  • Hotels, cafe’s, restaurants, part or parts of places of food production and or sold as specified in regulations made under the Law
  • Mosques, health facilities, educational facilities, child minding facilities, open areas within the premises of these places including any other building within the premises.
  • Government offices
  • Sports facilities, courts, grounds and stadiums
  • Any other public place as defined and stated in regulations made under this Law

Hence, according to the Law, the Regulations should identify and define public places, part or parts of public places that will become smoke free.

Apart from the places already defined in the Law, the main areas of definition in the Smoke Free Public Places Regulation are

  1. Smoke free public places as specified in the Law  with an inclusion of a 10 feet perimeter surrounding that gates/doors that give access to these premises from the road.
  2. All premises of governemnt offices including, independent institutions and public and governement share holding companies.
  3. Oldage care facilties including the open areas of the premise
  4. Rehabilitation facilities and centers including the open areas of the premise
  5. Childrens’ parks and oter places where children regularly go to play (such palces will be marked with signs to indicate the smoke free status as the regulation comes to force)
  6. All ferry’s and ferry terminals
  7. Vessels that are not deemd ferrys, but are used as ferrys for passenger transport on instances where it is used to for passanger transfer. (a tricky situation and hard to implement, but worthwhile)
  8. All vessels and vehicles used for transport of passangers and cargo
  9. All airconditioned cafes’, restaurants and food services facilities
  10. All oter cafes’ restaurants and food services facilties apart from the designated smoking area within the premise (these places will have to have a designated smoking area as specisfied in the regulation and need a permit to do so)
  11. Places where people gather for goods or services on a temporary basis including those where people have to wait in a queue (e.g. ATMs, ticket counters etc)
  12. Open public places where a large number of people gather (a bit vague but intended to mean places like Sultan Park, Fish Market, Artificial Beach and the like. These places will be marked with appropriate signage)

These demand reduction measures are included in the Law and Regulatin based on extensive research and best practices from countries who are successfully implementing such measures. It is though the people who will adhere to this Law. Undoubtedly, these are the signs of a modern developed society where smoking bans in public places are much more extensive. Lets hope that Maldivians will also follow suit.

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