Cyprus Mail

MPs uncertain over extended smoking ban

By Evie Andreou

MPs said on Thursday that that they had yet to agree on a number of provisions of the bill to tighten regulations on smoking in public place which is due before the House on September 27.

Members of the House health committee said that a number of provisions had yet to be agreed on, especially those concerning the ban of smoking in open spaces and electronic cigarettes.

According to the bill, that aims to replace the existing law on smoking controls and to align national legislation with the European Union’s Tobacco Products Directive, smoking will be prohibited in all workplaces, hospitals and schools, including open spaces.

The initial bill provides that in the non-smoking areas, smoking electronic cigarettes, herbal smoking products and water pipes (hookah), will also be prohibited.

The ban also includes the sale of packages containing under 20 cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco under 30 grammes. Harsher penalties are also provided, with fines reaching €2,000 and the suspension of operations of a non-abiding business for up to four days, with the option for a court to extend that penalty.

Akel MP Giorgos Georgiou said that the bill provided for a total ban of smoking and this raised a question on the rights of smokers.

“We are ready to discuss constructively in order on the one hand to protect children and individuals with special sensitivities but on the other hand, we believe that there can be exceptions as is the case in … many (European) countries where there are smoking zones,” Georgiou said.

Greens MP Giorgos Perdikis said that the majority of the committee members agree on most provisions but there were “doubts as regards electronic cigarettes”.

The aim was to adopt a legislation, he said, that protected the public but did not also threaten the survival of businesses.

As for electronic cigarettes, Perdikis said that those not containing nicotine were not prohibited by the EU directive, which did not provide for measures to limit their use, thus a relevant provision in the proposed bill had been removed.

Commenting on how one may detect whether an electronic cigarette may contain nicotine or not, he said that the burden of proof would be applied in court.

“If someone is wrongfully reported, they will have to refuse to pay the fine and prove (in court) that his or her electronic cigarette is not containing nicotine,” Perdikis said. Electronic cigarettes however, he said, would be banned in indoor work places, but there might be exceptions which have yet to be decided.

As regards open air spaces, there would not be a total ban, except in high-risk areas which will be designated by the legislative body, he said.

The Solidarity Movement’s Georgios Papadopoulos said that he too did not object to a total ban in hospitals and schools and in places frequented by minors, but that more discussion was needed as regards bars and other recreation places.

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