You walk into a bar or restaurant these days and the first thing that greets you is the smell of cigarettes as if there is a tobacco factory in the kitchen. The club scenes in Nigeria are not better as well as general social gatherings. It therefore comes as no surprise that the Lagos State House of Assembly is trying to put an end to the harmful effects of smoking and secondhand smoke, at least in public.
On Monday, 20 January 2014, Lagos State House Of Assembly passed the bill for a law to regulate smoking in public places in all parts of the state to the state Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), for an ascent. Some of the designated public places by the bill include public toilets, tertiary institutions, public transportation vehicles, shopping centres, schools, hospitals, stadia and restaurants.
The bill doesn’t seem out of place especially since Lagos State is not the first to try to curb the effects of smoking. States like Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin have also been known to place bans on smoking in public.
Here are some of the provisions of the bill, which consists of 16 sections:
Any person involved with the management of public place should put a ‘No-Smoking’ sign in conspicuous areas.
Penalties for smoking in a “no-smoking area” will be N10,000 fine or imprisonment for a term not less than one month and not exceeding three months or both.
Any person who repeatedly violates the provisions shall on conviction be liable to a fine of N50,000 or six month imprisonment or both.
The penalty for non-compliance by owner/occupier of a “no-smoking area” shall attract N100,000 or 6 month imprisonment, or other non custodial punishments that the judge may deem fit.
It would also be an offence to obstruct a duly authorized officer from carrying out his duties under the provision of this law.
The bill further stated that any person, who smokes in the presence of a child commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine of N15,000 or imprisonment for a month or both.
Smoking bans are nothing if not controversial, at least as they’re being proposed and implemented. But the question we have to how is how effective will the ban be and what are the benefits? Bans on smoking in public places benefit public health generally: a study found that smoking bans reduce risk of heart disease and heart attack—that the incidence of heart attacks falls by up to 47 percent in areas with smoking bans in place. As to the effectiveness of implementing this law, it may take some work and consistent pushing but the Government can achieve it especially since it has to do with the health of the general public.
The benefits of placing this ban are numerous and real, a few benefits such as decreased health risks, encouragement to quit and more are highlighted in the video below by Mayo Clinic
You can also check out this documentary video by Newsy Science on the benefits of public smoking bans
What do you think of the ban and how effective can it be?