Tobacco restrictions branded draconian
Bermuda's upcoming tobacco restrictions are draconian and possibly the strictest in the world, according to a tobacconist who will have to take 161 products off his shelves.
“There is not another country in the world that is banning so many products,” said Smoke Shop proprietor Michael Heslop of the Tobacco Control Bill 2015.
Jeanne Atherden, the Minister of Health, has defended the changes to the law that are set to kick in this December, saying they follow World Health Organisation protocols.
“I have found after hours of research that is not correct,” Mr Heslop said.
“There is no other country that is implementing all of these laws. This is barbaric and outrageous that she is trying to implement laws that no other country in the world is implementing.”
Mr Heslop has already spoken out against the legislation, which seeks to keep tobacco from being promoted in any way to youngsters.
The store owner had held out hope after it emerged that premium cigars would be exempt as they are not cigarettes.
The law bans flavoured tobacco. Mr Heslop sells shisha, which is flavoured hookah tobacco — but he said he was told this too would be banned.
“Countries are just banning flavoured cigarettes, not all flavoured tobacco,” he protested. “They are not banning shisha, tobacco wraps, tobacco rolling papers, blunts, cigarillos, or bidis,”
Mr Heslop conceded that Ms Atherden had taken the extra step of visiting his store, along with David Kendell, the director of the Department of Health.
“I have to say I was very thankful they made the effort to come and see us,” he said, adding that the minister had seemed taken aback by his claim that nowhere else in the world appeared to be enacting such sweeping laws banning so many products at once.
“Just the Smoke Shop alone will have to take 161 products off our shelves if this Act goes through,” he said.
Letters, Page 5