PARLIAMENT should act in full respect of children’s rights and vote for a total ban on smoking in playgrounds and adjacent areas, Children’s Rights Commissioner Leda Koursoumba said after learning that the relevant bill had issues.
The commissioner’s office issued an announcement after it emerged that the provision on the ban of smoking in open-air spaces where minors frequent such as playgrounds, had been removed from the revised text of the bill on smoking. The bill, that aims to align national legislation to that of the European Union is currently under discussion at the House health committee.
Akel MP Adamos Adamou told the Cyprus Mail that they were shocked to discover during a committee meeting that from the revised text sent by the health ministry, playgrounds were removed from a provision stipulating that smoking was allowed in open-air spaces, except in spaces where minors frequent.
“The total smoking ban in hospitals and schools remains, but it was removed for open-air playgrounds,” Adamou said.
He added that the committee told Health Minister Giorgos Pamboridis that there is no way they would allow this and that they would reintroduce the provision.
According to reports, the removal of the provision in question was the result of pressure from hoteliers as many have invested a lot of money in parks and waterparks and that it might not be well received by tourists.
The president of Pasyxe hoteliers’ association, Haris Loizides, refuted these claims.
“We indeed sent letters asking for the smoking ban not to include open-air spaces like swimming pool areas, beaches and other outdoor spaces where events are held. We never said anything about playgrounds,” Loizides said. He added that Pasyxe respects the smoking ban on indoor spaces. He added that perhaps waterpark owners had put forth their own request but that it had nothing to do with Pasyxe.
“The total ban on smoking in playgrounds, indoor or outdoor, as well as in open-air spaces neighbouring playgrounds or open-air spaces where children gather, such as bus stops, promotes and serves to safeguard the interests of the child and its right to health,” Koursoumba said.
She added that she already submitted her opinion on the matter both to the health ministry and the House health committee.
A total ban on smoking, including alternative forms of smoking, should also be adopted in all indoor and outdoor spaces where children gather such as restaurants, cafes, dance halls, including private residences, the announcement said.
“In other EU countries smoking is forbidden within a certain radius around places where public services are housed and in open-air spaces where many people congregate such as mass transportation stops and playgrounds,” Koursoumba said.