Fabian Demicoli

The Smoking Ban

The Ministry of Health continues to insist that it has not decreed a total
smoking ban. It goes on to persist in its position that it has lived up to the
agreement reached with GRTU representatives on public smoking restrictions. The
Ministry implies that the GRTU’s withdrawal from the Malta Standards Authority
committee discussing the technical aspects somehow contributed to the end
result, the new Regulations.


The plain and simple truth is:

1. The
way the new Regulations have been drafted (incidentally, this is the third
version of regulations on exactly the same subject in less than a year,
something of a record) necessarily implies that ALL catering establishments,
irrespective of their size, must have a physically separate smoking room by
October. If there is no such room, and in the myriad small establishments all
around the country, there will be no such room because it is not physically
possible to have one, then smoking will not be permitted. The only concession
given by the new Regulations is that these establishments have longer to bring
their (impossible to have) smoking rooms into line insofar as concerns the
quality of air. This is as close to a total smoking ban as it would be possible
to have without actually calling it one, however the Ministry spins
it.

2. During meetings on this subject presided by the Minister, it was
agreed that smaller (less than 60m2) establishments would a) not need a separate
smoking room and b) would have a year in which to install air extraction
equipment in order to minimise the incidence of tobacco smoke. Clearly, this
agreement has not been lived up to by the Ministry, however the Ministry spins
it.

3. The GRTU withdrew from the MSA Committee because the Committee
would not recognise the simple fact that the manner in which the matter was
being discussed would lead to the inevitable result that the specifications
would not reflect the agreement reached above. It was the Committee that was in
the wrong and the GRTU had no choice but to walk out, however the Ministry spins
it.

The GRTU has pledged to continue to put forward the views of the
private sector and will be filing judicial proceedings asking the Civil Court to
confirm that the Ministry of Health has reneged on its agreement. The emotive
manner of communication adopted by the Ministry will not prevent the truth
coming out when the testimony of the people who attended the meetings is heard
under oath.

 

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