Jamaica: Proposals made for Tobacco Bill to limit public sector/business links

Jamaica: Proposals made for Tobacco Bill to limit public sector/business links

PROPOSED limitations on interaction between public bodies/personnel and tobacco products companies raised temperatures at yesterday’s meeting of a joint select committee reviewing smoking regulations.

The limitations included in Article 5.3 of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) states: “In setting and implementing their public health policies with respect to tobacco control, parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law.”

Opposition spokesman on health Dr Morais Guy questioned if Article 5.3, which specifically relates to health officials, was mandatory and whether it infringed on the constitutional rights of the public servants and bodies which it will affect.

Albert Edwards, legal consultant at the Ministry of Health and Wellness, confirmed that the guidelines relating to the article would be applicable to all Government officials, when instituted, whether at the national, state, provincial, municipal, local or any other level of the public service which handles health issues.

“Any Government branch responsible for setting or implementing tobacco control policies would be subject to the guidelines in relation to restrictions on interaction and investment in the tobacco industry,” he explained.

“The principle being that there is an irreconcilable conflict from the perspective of those who are seeking to control the use of tobacco. There is an irreconcilable conflict: That is the philosophy, that is the policy underlying these controls,” Edwards told the committee.

He said that while there will be the need for interaction between the public bodies and public officials involved with public health matters and the industry, there should be accountability and transparency in terms of that relationship.

Source: Jamaica Observer