The Government has introduced new legislation banning smoking in public places which could see offenders face up to two years in jail, with immediate effect. In the words of the Local Government Minister, Silvia Masebo:
"I have been compelled to issue the above Statutory Instrument due to the continued smoking in public places by persons that have no regard for the comfort of others.....Whoever will contravene this regulation will commit an offence upon conviction to a fine or to an imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or both....the government had decided to introduce such stiff penalties for smokers because of the hazardous nature to non-smokers who were forced to be passive smokers"Apparently, a few designated smoking areas will be introduced to allow smokers to indulge during lunch time. The only problem of course is that there are currently no designated smoking areas in most public places such as offices, shopping malls and public transport. Presumably Ms Masebo has not considered the possibility that people will just smoke more at home? Doesn't this measure simply divert policing, court and jail resources from serious crimes ? It takes many months, sometimes years, before individuals see the light of day in court. Do we really need petty crimes like this one to add further pressure on our paralysed legal system? Why did she not fully consult on this proposal? In countries that have imposed similar bans, these things are subject to public discussion for many months before it is applied. I guess this is all academic since the legislation will almost certainly be difficult to enforce, not even in Ms Masebo's own constituency.