Posted by News Express | 24 January 2014 | 2,944 times
The Lagos State Public Place Smoking Law promulgated last Monday (January 20) by the State House of Assembly has drawn commendation from British American Tobacco Nigeria (BATN), which described the law as balanced.
The company in a statement yesterday praised the new law for accommodating the views of all stakeholders whilst also maintaining its responsibility to protect the citizens of Lagos State from the effects of second hand smoking.
Commenting on the law, which has been sent to Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola for assent, BATN Head of Regulatory Affairs, Mr. Sola Dosunmu, welcomed the passage of the law, noting that it expressly seeks to protect the non-smoking public from tobacco smoke and also guarantees the adult cigarette smokers’ right to continue to enjoy the smoking of a legal product in private places, open places and in other designated smoking areas in hotels, bars, nightclubs and tertiary institutions.
“We have studied the law and we particularly like the fact that it is not excessive or discriminatory. It is balanced and respects choices,” Dosunmu said.
He praised the lawmakers for taking on board the views of the owners of hotel, bar, lounge and café owners who advocated for the inclusion of designated smoking areas in the law. Also commendable, according to BATN, is the introduction of six months grace period for these owners to implement any changes envisaged under the new law as to do otherwise would have crippled their businesses even though he was of the view that a 12 months grace period was more realistic and in tune with international standards.
Dosunmu debunked the insinuation that the tobacco industry was opposed to the passage of the law, rather he reiterated that the industry has always advocated for the passage of balanced, evidenced led and workable laws. This, he opined, the Lagos State House of Assembly has to a large extent achieved by the passage of the new law.
The law stipulates the penalties for smoking in a “no-smoking area” at N10,000 fine or imprisonment for a term not less than one month and not exceeding three months or both. It also stipulates the penalty for non-compliance by owner/occupier of a “no-smoking area” at N100,000 or six-month imprisonment or other non-custodial punishments that the judge may deem fit. The law allows for owners of hotels, bars, night club and tertiary institutions to demarcate at least 10% of their premises as a Smoking Area for their adult customers who choose to smoke.
It allows for smoking in open places such as on the street, roads and highways as well as in private homes and residences.
•Photo shows Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola.
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