Sunday Times Editorial - Smoking ban just on paper - 13/2/2006

Smoking ban just on paper
And while on the subject of health, it is a sad indictment of one of our most negative characteristics - lack of enforcement of rules and regulations, a failing of successive administrations - that almost two years after regulations prohibiting smoking in public places came into force, these are widely flouted.

This is particularly true of discos, night clubs and bars which are frequented mostly by young people, who are thus exposed to second-hand smoke at very close quarters. After a couple of hours their clothes reek of tobacco smoke (just imagine what their lungs look like!), their eyes water and they feel sick. This was the experience of patrons at one large party in a Paceville disco club last Thursday attended by hundreds of young people, forcing many of the non-smokers among them to leave early. Needless to say, the police do not seem to have taken any action.

Why aren't these establishments regularly visited by police officers to see that the no smoking regulation is observed, and offenders brought to book? And indeed, why are there so few prosecutions for this offence? It seems the no-smoking regulations (which, despite initial opposition, are being strictly observed in other countries like Ireland) are destined to remain on paper, as with so many other regulations in Malta! The penalties - a minimum Lm100 fine for the first offence, and Lm10 a day for as long as the offence persists, and up to three months' jai and the withdrawal of the premises' licence - look fine on paper, but that's as far as it goes!

When will our "authorities" realise that in this area, at least, the price of inaction is much higher than that of enforcement?

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