Public smoking ban comes into force
Thursday, April 16, 2009
The campaign against smoking has received a major boost with an announcement by the Department of State for Health and Social Welfare, informing the general public, institutions and organisations of the coming into force of the law prohibiting smoking in public places (Public Places Act 1998).
This law, according to the release, signed by Dr Mariatiou Jallow - secretary of state for Health and Social Welfare, came into being through an Act of the National Assembly, under the Prohibition of Smoking (public places) Act of 1998, and it was later assented to by His Excellency, the president, Professor, Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh, on the 23 September 1998, thereby making public smoking unlawful and punishable by law. The release added that the act defines public places to include all government premises, all work places, hospitals or health facilities, private premises, vehicles and shops to which the public have access.
It went on to state that according to the World Health Organisation, over 5 million people die around the world each year due to both active and passive smoking. "Hence, it is common knowledge that many people innocently or unknowingly become victims of tobacco use by being exposed to second hand smoke at their places of work, homes or other public places." The release went on: "As a [department of state] assigned to implement this act, the public is hereby informed that with immediate effect, smoking is banned in all public places stipulated under this act." In the same vein, all heads of institutions, organisations, work places and other public places are hereby urged to implement this act.
The release states that in such establishments, smoking will be allowed only in clearly labelled designated smoking areas, and that any person who contravene a provision of this Act commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding five hundred dalasis and not less than two hundred dalasis or to a term of imprisonment of not more than three months or to both fine and imprisonment.
The release added that the Department of State for Health and Social Welfare has already concluded nationwide regional consultations on the act, and will continue to inform and educate the general public on the Act as well as the overall hazards of tobacco. To this end, the authorities promised to work closely with the security forces to enforce this Act. The release concluded by thanking the general public for their cooperation and support in the implementation of this act.