This World No Tobacco Day (May 31), the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) reminds the public that, under the Tobacco Control Act 2010, it is illegal to smoke in workplaces, schools, hospitals, clinics and public transport such as buses, taxis and pick-up trucks. You must not smoke in these areas.
‘Smoking is not allowed in all public transport, including in all public service (G and X plated) vehicles,’ said Dr Geoff Kenilorea, Director, Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) Department, MHMS.
Owners or people-in-charge of workplaces, schools, health facilities and public transport must ensure that people who smoke in these areas are requested to stop smoking, and are requested to leave or are refused service if the person continues to smoke after being requested to stop.
Owners or people-in-charge may seek the assistance of enforcement officers, including police officers, to remove anyone who is smoking in these areas.
‘Owners or people-in-charge of workplaces, schools, health facilities and public transport must display no-smoking signs at entrances to and other prominent places within these areas,’ said Dr Kenilorea.
‘Anyone including people in charge of workplaces, schools, health facilities and public transport who contravenes this regulation commits an offence under the Act and is liable to be penalized,’ said Dr Kenilorea.
Penalties for breaking the law are as follows; for individuals, a fine of up to $20,000 or 2 years in prison (for a first offence) or a fine of up to $50,000 or 4 years in prison (for a second offence). For corporate bodies, penalties are a fine of up to $500,000 (for a first offence) or a fine of up to $1,000,000 (for a second and subsequent offence).
Smoking contributes to Non-Communicable Diseases such as diabetes, stroke and heart disease, which are affecting Solomon Islanders at an alarming rate, threatening our health and our livelihoods. According to the MHMS Statistical Health Core Indicator Report 2015, 16.6% of people presenting to health facilities had diabetes in 2015, which is an increase from 12.8% in 2014. In addition, 35.9% of people presenting to health facilities had hypertension or high blood pressure in 2015, which is an increase from 32.9% in 2014.
‘This World No Tobacco Day, MHMS is calling on all stakeholders and sections of the community to work together to stop second-hand smoking and protect the health and livelihoods of our people, especially women and children,” said Dr Kenilorea.