PNP general secretary, Peter Bunting, told reporters at the end of the National Executive Council meeting that Dr. Ferguson had delivered a comprehensive report on the issue.
“The minister said he has listened to the various groups and where there can be some accommodation, he will issue a new set of regulations.
“He also gave a commitment that the (Public Health) Act will be amended so that in future, the regulations will require either affirmative resolution of Parliament or some confirmation from Parliament itself, as most modern pieces of regulation now require. This act may have been one of the older ones that did not contemplate that”.
Bunting said that Dr. Ferguson had accepted that for good governance, it would be appropriate to amend that act, “so that going forward, you would have this sort of debate during the course of the resolution being taken in Parliament, rather than having first to put out regulations and then come to amend them at a subsequent stage”.
Earlier sections of the PNP meeting booed Knight after he had called on Dr. Ferguson to be prepared to pack his bags if there were no changes to the measures that came into effect on July 15 banning smoking in public spaces.
The regulations require that “no smoking” signs be posted at places of work, government buildings, educational institutions and health facilities including pharmacies.
The move is part of Jamaica’s thrust to meet its international obligations, to enact measures to reduce the use of tobacco, and exposure to tobacco smoke.
Under the new regulation anyone found guilty of violating the law are liable for a fine of J$50,000 (One Jamaica dollar = US$0.10 cents) and/or three months’ imprisonment for the first offence. In the case of a second conviction, persons face up to J$500,000 in fines and/or jail time of six months, or up to 12 months’ imprisonment for subsequent offences.
Last week, the former national security minister said that he was opposed to the mandatory sentences for persons caught smoking publicly.
He said there is no mandatory sentence for people caught smoking marijuana which is an illegal substance, but there is a mandatory sentence for smoking cigarettes, which is a legal substance.
But when he addressed the meeting on Sunday, Dr Ferguson said that he would take the matter of adjustments to the smoking ban before a meeting of the Cabinet on Monday, indicating also that he did not want to go into details before Cabinet had dealt with it.
Dr. Ferguson said he had taken note of the concerns raised by Knight at a previous meeting, adding that he would do his best to deal with them.
“I think you will see some adjustment for various areas in terms of the penalties, issues in terms of the definition of public spaces, among other things,” said Bunting said.