Tobacco controls to be debated in House
Asthma charity Open Airways is backing proposed legislation amendments that will restrict the sale of electronic cigarettes.
The Tobacco Control Act 2015, first announced in last year's Throne Speech, is expected to be debated by MPs in the House of Assembly today.
Nurse Tracy Nash said she was pleased that the Act aimed to restrict the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and extended restrictions on tobacco products to e-cigarettes.
“Smoking is known to be the leading cause of premature death and is a the main risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” Ms Nash told The Royal Gazette.
She added that it was also a risk factor for heart disease, strokes, peripheral vascular disease, lung and throat cancers, and many other cancers.
“Regarding the tobacco Bill, I am happy to see that it proposes to restrict the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and that restrictions that are current on tobacco products will extend to e-cigarettes.
“Because they do not contain tobacco, they were not regulated by the tobacco restrictions currently in place, so can be advertised and flavoured with flavours such as bubblegum and other candy-type flavourings.”
The Tobacco Control Act, which is listed on today's agenda for the House of Assembly, proposes to protect children from smoking and to prevent access to tobacco-related products that encourage take-up by youth and continued use in smokers.
The sale of individual cigarettes will be banned and the sale and use of e-cigarettes will be controlled.
Concerns about the changes have been voiced previously, with parts of the Act being criticised as heavy-handed by the local tobacco industry.
According to Ms Nash, e-cigarettes were initially intended to be an aid to quit smoking and are still a better alternative to smoking tobacco if the person is unable to quit.
But she added that while they did not have the health risks of burning tobacco, they were still addictive because they contain nicotine, which has been classed to be as addictive as cocaine and heroin by the World Health Organisation.
According to the STEPS to a Well Bermuda survey 2014, nearly one in seven adults smokes tobacco daily or on some days — 7 per cent of women smoke and 20 per cent of men. The average age that people start smoking is 18.
Among all smokers, four out of five smoke manufactured cigarettes, one in six smokes hand-rolled cigarettes, one in thirteen smoke cigars and fewer than one in a hundred smoke pipes.
Almost half of all smokers have tried to quit smoking within a year and the same amount were advised to quit by a healthcare provider.
Ms Nash said: “My biggest concerns from the STEPS survey are that we still have 20 per cent of men who are smoking cigarettes — this has increased by 3 per cent since 2006. Thankfully, women smokers are currently only 7 per cent, which is a decrease of 3 per cent since 2006.”
The Health in Review 2011 report also revealed that there was a slight decrease in smoking habits among Bermuda's adults between 1999 and 2008.
“In 2006 more people had never smoked than in 1999 and declines were observed in the percentage of persons identifying themselves as current smokers from 1999 to 2006, with a further decline in 2008,” the report stated.
E-cigarettes and flavoured tobacco were targeted as a risk to minors in the One Bermuda Alliance's 2014-15 legislative agenda. Less than two weeks ahead of the Throne Speech 2015, the health ministry confirmed that the Tobacco Control Act 2015 would proceed as written.
Along with the Tobacco Bill, finance legislation is expected to be debated today, with the Consideration of the Foreign Currency Purchase Tax Order 2015.
Grant Gibbons, the Minister of Economic Development, will bring the Perpetuities and Accumulations Amendment Act 2015 before MPs, while the Bermuda Archives Amendment Act 2015 is coming to the House for its first reading courtesy of Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, the Minister of Community, Culture and Sport.