1. Empower law enforcement officers to apply and enforce the law easily.
2. Empower citizens to enforce the law and to protect their rights.
3. Penalties must be punitive, effective and a severe deterrent.
4. Stringent "No Smoking" rules.
5. "No Smoking" in ALL public places, including OPEN spaces
6. No provision for any "Smoking Areas". (unless completely isolated)
7. Ensure Responsibility and Liability
8. Ignore Extraneous Arguments.
I do chair the committee on health in my town, but I make no pretensions about being an expert on health matters. I am studying Provincial and Local Government law at UMSA, but I make no pretensions about being an expert on legislative matters. My studies in the field of Industrial Administration (Production Engineering) included statistics and statistical analysis, but I make no pretensions about being an expert in statistics.
My 21 years of service as a non-party independent elected public representative does not make me an expert on public opinion, but I can claim to have heard the opinions of the public. In recent times I have paid particular attention to the opinion of the public on smoking matters.
I can claim to represent the ordinary average "man in the street" who is simply disturbed by the smoking of others. People like me who don't smoke. People who
are reasonable and fair minded but whose rights, health and freedom of choice are being impinged upon by smokers. Even people who smoke but who are themselves disturbed by the smoking of others.
I can claim to represent the average citizen who is a smoker, who is desperate to stop smoking but is unable to do so because of the terrible addiction. Many have approached me. I have succeeded in helping a few.
There is no question or doubt what so ever that there is a great need for the legislation which we are now discussing. The only question is one of degree. The answer to that question is that the legislation should go as far as it is constitutionally possible to go in order to protect the rights and health and well being of our citizens. Those citizens include our children whose future is in grave jeopardy if we fail to protect them from the onslaught of the tobacco industry to entice them into the addictive trap of smoking.
LEGISLATION & ENFORCEMENT
There can be no compromise. There must be no half measures. The law must be comprehensive and complete. The legislation must be understandable and enforceable.
Therein lies my first plea to this committee. The Peace Officers and all those in various spheres of government especially at grass roots level who are tasked with law enforcement duties, must be able to enforce this law without any confusion. Equally important is my second plea, that as a law-abiding citizen I must be able to ensure that my rights to a smoke free environment are protected. I, and every citizen, must, in the absence of any officer of the law, be empowered with a mechanism to enforce the law and to protect ourselves against those who smoke where smoking is prohibited.
There shouldn't be an overreaction about this. There are many more serious crimes. We must address the control of those actions which will be crimes once this Bill becomes an Act.
The penalties for infringement must be high. A fine of R1 OO will not be a deterrent. A fine of R5 000 might possibly be a deterrent. How can we as legislators add to the deterrent factor of such a penalty ?. I would suggest one mechanism. It is the method which I understand to be used in London. In essence, I have been told that they have 2 simple rules. The first rule is that you may not smoke where law prohibits smoking. The second rule applies immediately upon the first rule being broken.
The rule is "you pay or you stay." This rule is just so wonderfully, delightfully simple. The authorities will escort you to an office and even offer you a cup of tea. The offender will receive every assistance possible in order to pay the fine. You may telephone a spouse or your bank manager. You may call a friend or credit card company. However, whatever else you may do, you do not leave until you have paid the fine. Now I am not suggesting that a person's constitutional right to trial is removed. Here there is no need for trial. There can be no doubt as to the offence. I am pleased to see a wide definition of "smoking" in the Bill. I question the section "have control over". I wonder whether anyone has "control" over anything once the dreaded nicotine hits the brain.
PERSONAL FROM THE PEOPLE
Smokers cost non-smokers part of their hard earned cash. A friend, Carolyn, related her thoughts to me. First, she told me about the death of her parents. Both her parents died recently, within one year of each other, from smoking related illnesses. They died agonising, coughing, spluttering, gasping deaths. The financial cost to her and to the state was enormous. The emotional cost is incalculable. She now veritably detests smoking. In addition to that, the costs to her continue. She did not even mention the costs of medication which she needs to treat illnesses from which she suffers as a result of forced passive smoking. Every time she finds herself in even the mildest smoking environment she has a need to wash her hair to get rid of the stink. Next, she has to deodorise her flat because the stink from her clothes permeates every room. Lastly, she has to dry-clean her clothes at great cost. These additional costs of shampoo, washing towels, deodoriser and dry-cleaning are forced onto Carolyn and others directly and only because of the tobacco industry, smokers and smoking.
Many smokers are protective of, arrogant about and belligerent to opponents of their habit. Earlier this year at a workshop with the business community at my Metropolitan Council, smokers "lit up" during the morning break in an area clearly demarcated as a no smoking zone. I asked them to smoke on the balcony. There were five of them and only one of me and they attacked me viciously. Verbally I must say. I stood my ground. They relented and retreated to the balcony. Not because I insisted that they stop smoking. No Sir. Smoking is their right. But because I insisted that they obey the law. During the lunch break Simon, an elderly engineer, who had been particularly harsh in his attack on me regarding his rights and other points, came to apologise. The apology is however not the point. He is a gentleman. The point is that he had tears in his eyes. He cried, Mr Chairman. He explained in a painful voice that he wanted to give up the habit, but he couldn't. He begged me for help. He was devastated and in great physical and emotional pain. He is one of many. Can we allow that fate to befall our children ? There is no doubt that we cannot. We must not.
These are just 2 real life incidents. I can relate many more. I am certain that you don't need me to do that as you would already have heard many tragic stories which occurred as a result of smoking.
During this debate on smoking we are peppered and bomba5rded with arguments about alcohol and drinking. There may be some validity in some points mentioned by smokers in their attack on alcohol and relevant laws as a defence mechanism in the debate on smoking. Their arguments are however just a smoke screen. Why else would bars and hotels be so unhappy about a ban on smoking. No smoking less drinking. Less drinking - less profit. So why, I beg to know, do smokers and the tobacco industry argue that alcohol is worse than tobacco. Evidence and their own arguments suggest that it is the smokers who are the bigger drinkers.
Those arguments are designed to distract our attention away from the direction, which must be taken, regarding tobacco legislation. In any case, liquor is the only product specifically already mentioned for control in the constitution. Tobacco is not mentioned. We must not allow ourselves to be distracted.
I will not bore this committee with my views on the other extraneous arguments which will be put to this committee by the tobacco industry. Highly paid and eloquent presenters will present those arguments. Suffice for me to say that I would consider those arguments largely extraneous for the simple reason that they are likely to be one-sided. They are also unlikely to disclose those facts which will not support the argument that the tobacco industry is trying to promote. The international record of the industry in this regard is clear. Included are also "unemployment" and taxes We must not allow ourselves to be misled.
Road accident fatalities: This is another red herring which will be laid before you. Statistics regarding road accident fatalities do not make pleasant reading but they are extraneous to this debate. We must not allow ourselves to be deceived.
What we must do is to maintain locus. We must not allow ourselves to be side tracked. We must stick to the task at hand. We must legislate for stringent controls.
Providing for a smoking area in any public place is a futile exercise unless extremely strict enforceable controls are in place. Any smoking area must be totally and completely isolated from all public areas and must be separately and individually air conditioned and filtered. Unless there is clear control and isolation of smoking areas, the legislation will be as effective as the thought of confining urinating to the shallow end of a swimming pool.
Insisting that smokers go "outside" is also hopeless. Smokers tend to stand in the doorway or at least very close to it, particularly if the weather is inclement Their health damaging smoke wafts into the room or hall. Not only does that damage my health and that of everyone else in a hall, but it stinks to boot. I can generally smell a cigarette being lit up in the doorway of a hall within a few seconds and as far as 30 meters. Picture also how disgustingly unpleasant it is to leave a hall when there are five or ten smokers standing within two or 3 meters of the entrance.
The last extraneous argument of the tobacco industry is that of motor vehicle exhaust gas emissions and industrial pollution. There are controls for industrial pollution and the motor industry is proceeding with unleaded fuel and catalytic converters to minimise pollution. The tobacco industry is not exempt.
The vast majority of the members of my public, including the majority of smokers themselves whom I represent agree with me on all these points. This is the reason why I'm here. To bring to you the view of a large sector of the "man in the street". I will ignore the statement made by more than one person, who has said on occasion that All smokers should be shot". I respond.... "ALL of them?" Smoking should be prohibited in all public areas. I should emphasise the word ALL. This should include not only enclosed areas as described in the Bill but, inter alia open sports stadiums, parks, patios, walkways and the streets.
RESPONSIBILITY AND LIABILITY
Apart from the offender, we must ask ourselves who else should be responsible and be held liable for any contravention of the Act once promulgated. I would suggest that in a restaurant for example, the waiter serving a particular table and the manager, be held jointly and severally liable for allowing an illegal act to take place in an area or a premises under their control. If a client refuses to obey the law the restaurant can eject that client from the premises. The liability could be extended to an absent owner. If the owner is a company or close corporation then all the directors or members should be held liable. This would not be unusual or abnormal. The Road Traffic Act holds the registered owner of a vehicle liable for offences which involve that vehicle. The owner of any company is responsible for ensuring that the company complies with all legal requirements.
I have allowed time as requested, should the committee wish to ask me questions. I am quite happy to expose myself to the risk of a taxing, challenging test of the views of the public. I want to answer your questions because as a public figure I am regularly asked why we don't enforce the law. This set of laws, T P A Bill, must, like all other laws, be enforced. We must not let the public see that individual smokers and big business can break the law with impunity.