82 smoking related offences recorded in January

Azlan Othman

Eighty-two offences under the Tobacco Order 2005 were recorded last month (January), the Ministry of Health said yesterday.

These offences included 80 under Section 14 (2) for smoking in a restricted area, one offence under Section 10 (1) of smoking among adolescents under the age of 18 and one offence under Section 12 (3) for selling tobacco products without a licence. All were subject to action as provided for under the Tobacco Order 2005.

Of the total offences for January, 70 were perpetrated by men and 12 by women.

The Health Enforcement Unit of the Department of Environmental Health Services at the Ministry of Health along with the Operations Unit of the Commercial and Law Enforcement Division of the Royal Customs and Excise Department (RCED) also conducted Ops Pajah 1/2020 on January 27 to stop smoking in government buildings and commercial areas in Bandar Seri Begawan.

As a result of the Ops Pajah 1/2020, the Health Enforcement Unit recorded five offences (out of 82 offences throughout January).

Four of the offences were under Section 14 (2) of the Tobacco Order 2005 which is smoking/vaping at a prohibited place, while one offence was under Section 12 (3) of the Tobacco Order 2005 for selling tobacco products. All offenders were subject to compound penalties.

The Operations Unit of the RCED recorded seven arrests under Excise Order 146 (1) (d) during the Ops Pajah 1/2020.

If convicted in court, a minimum fine of BND5,000 will be imposed on a person who smuggles cigarettes or the offender fails to provide proof of payment of cigarette tax in his or her possession.

The Tobacco Order 2005 and its regulations prohibits smoking in public places. The ban aims to control smoking habits and to protect the public from exposure to cigarette smoke.

In an effort to enhance the effectiveness of the action under the Order, strict action against those found to be smoking in prohibited places will be taken by the Health Enforcement Unit of the Ministry of Health by imposing a BND300 compound fine for the first offence.

Meanwhile, a BND500 compound fine will be imposed on anyone found guilty of second and subsequent offences.

The Tobacco Order 2005 also requires the manager of premises where smoking is prohibited to display notices of smoking prohibition in public places and perform their responsibility in ensuring customers and the public do not smoke in prohibited areas under their control, as described under Section 15 of the Tobacco Order 2005.

Managers of premises that fail to perform such responsibilities may be fined up to BND500 for first and subsequent offences.

Non-smoking public areas include government buildings, shop pathways, shopping malls, markets, tamu, bus stations, bus stops, restaurants, eateries and within six metres of the building line.

The Ministry of Health through the Health Enforcement Unit will continuously carry out monitoring operations for offences under the Tobacco Order 2005 and will not hesitate to take action and issue fines to anyone found in violation.

The Ministry of Health welcomes public complaints in an effort to curb violations under the Tobacco Order 2005. The public can contact the Health Enforcement Unit via hotline 7192005 or email to [email protected]