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No ban on cigarette vending- Public Health Minister, but law prohibits tray sales

Minister of Health, Volda Lawrence

Public Health Minister, Volda Lawrence on Thursday said cigarette vending in the public would not be banned, a position that is in direct contrast to the prohibition of cigarettes in carrying-trays.

“The Bill passed in the House is not one which will stop people from smoking and it does not ban persons from selling cigarettes. What the Bill asks is that persons do not sell loose cigarettes so when the regulations come out you will see that we will be saying how many cigarettes should be in the packet and what must be on those packages,” she said when asked by Demerara Waves Online News.

When the Public Health  Minister was told that the Tobacco Control Bill states that “no person shall go into any public place carrying any tobacco product, electronic delivery system or component, in a tray, container or otherwise for the purpose of making sales or commercially displaying the product,” she said that section referred to health, government, education and sport facilities.

However, there is a separate section  titled “prohibition of sales in certain places” that lists health care facilities; sports, athletic or recreational facilities; government buildings; educational facilities or any other place prescribed by the regulations as ‘no-smoking’ areas or persons caught doing so would be fined GYD$400,000 and jailed for six months.

Lawrence said no one would be prohibited from selling cigarettes at the street corners. “The good life is for everyone, even the street vendors but I can assure you the cost to take care of a person who is suffering from any illness that is tobacco-related is far more than what we get in taxes… We don’t want to have a weak workforce. We want to have healthy people,” she said.

The Public Health Minister said cancer is the number two cause of death in Guyana, with tobacco being a major contributing agent.