Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Honduras steps back, risking ire of Framework Convention Alliance

Last-minute changes to a Honduras tobacco law roused the anger of tobacco controllers: but it wasn't the law I hoped had been watered down.

This is a law, passed in Honduras a week ago, allows the public to call the police about people smoking in the home:
The law explicitly bans smoking in schools, gas stations, nightclubs, restaurants, bars, buses, taxis, stadiums and cultural centers but it doesn't clearly ban smoking at home.
A clause, however, expressly says relatives or visitors can summon police to deal with smokers at home: "Families or individuals may complain to law enforcement authorities when smokers expose them to secondhand smoke in private places and family homes."
Applying law enforcement measures to situations where no law is being broken? Anti-tobacco forces once more undermine the purpose of laws in what we used to call civilised society. Laws used to be 'for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools'. They were/are created by legislatures, by democratically elected representatives of the community. But it seems that now we can be coerced into a form of behaviour without any law being passed, because someone has the right to sanction our actions without the force of law.

The law itself is freakish enough ... or could be. The reporter says: 'The new measure bans smoking in most closed public or private spaces and orders smokers to stand at least six feet away from nonsmokers in any open space.'  Does it mean 'orders smokers to stand at least six feet away from nonsmokers' at any time, or only when smoking? This provision is extreme, especially in a country short of law enforcers and long on crime: it looks suspiciously like trying to hit soft targets.

Anyway, as I said, this wasn't  the legislation that was watered down to the annoyance of the Framework Convention Alliance. The provision that was changed reduced the coverage of tobacco packs with health warnings from 80 to 50 per cent. Shocking.
On Wednesday 23 February, just two days after the national tobacco control law went into effect, the Honduras Congress voted to approve an amendment to the law that reduces the required pictorial health warnings on tobacco packages from 80 per cent to 50 per cent. 
The new amendment also provides the tobacco industry three more months to meet the new warning label requirements.
Of course the Framework Convention Alliance is desperate to put things to rights:
We ask that President Porfirio Lobo Sosa veto the amendment to ensure that the health of Hondurans is protected.
Nice to see that crowd supporting the democratic process as usual.

1 comment:

snoring solutions said...

This is our health service and I don't believe that people should be damaging their health in this particular way with the help of the NHS. That's not what people pay their taxes for.'