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Barbados to ban smoking in public places

Adventist health officials commend move

Seventh-day Adventists are among those applauding a forthcoming ban on public smoking in Barbados.

Already passed by the country's cabinet and headed for its parliament, the legislation will protect citizens from second-hand smoke, Barbados' minister of health, Donville Inniss, said during an August 5 announcement.

Expected to take effect in October, the ban extends steep fines or imprisonment -- or both -- on those found smoking illegally and businesses allowing it, the Caribbean nation's government announced this month.

The International Commission for the Prevention of Alcoholism and Drug Dependency, a non-governmental agency supported in part by Adventists, joined likeminded organizations in Barbados to lobby for the landmark legislation, said Peter Landless, ICPA executive director and an associate director of the Adventist world church's Health Ministries department.

The legislation is the latest move in the country's effort to curb smoking. The government of Barbados previously hiked taxes on tobacco, abolished duty-free concessions at the country's ports of entry, banned sales of tobacco to minors, and prohibited the employment of minors in the sale of tobacco products.

Coming from one of the Caribbean's largest and most influential nations, the move is particularly significant, Landless said.

"Setting a strategic and planned approach [to restrict the use of tobacco] sets an example to highly developed countries worldwide," he said.

During the announcement last week, Inniss said smokers found defying the ban will face a maximum of a U.S.$250 fine, a 12-month prison sentence or both. Similarly, businesses who permit customers to smoke in public could see fines as high as $2,500, 12 months in prison or both.

While the legislation appears rigorous, Landless said its implementation may be regulators' greatest challenge.