• Wednesday, February 21, 2024
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BusinessDay

Lagos criminalises smoking in public, spread of false information

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Notwithstanding its seeming inability to enforce some of its existing legislations, the Lagos State government, on Monday, turned out a new law criminalising smoking in public places in any part of the state, with an offender liable to six months imprisonment or N50,000 fine depending on the discretion of the judge.africa_smoking_0721

Such places as listed in the new law include museums, public toilets, libraries, nurseries, day care centres and any facility used for the care of infants. Others are public telephone kiosks, public transportation vehicles, private vehicles where there are more than one persons, school buses, factories, restaurants and cinemas, theatres, amusement parks or any other place used by members of public as conference centres and exhibitions halls.

Also criminalised is the making of false calls to the state’s toll-free numbers information, which are exclusively for emergency cases such as accidents, fire, robbery, burglary and rescue operations. The laws originated by the state House of Assembly were signed by Governor Babatunde Fashola on Monday, with the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) and the security agencies including the police, charged with the responsibility of enforcement.

Unfortunately, however, some existing laws of the state are suffering from enforcement, as the security agents charged with their enforcement are the law breakers themselves. For example, the Lagos State Road Traffic Law signed into force in 2012, which prohibits the use of motorcycle below 200cc on expressways and bridges, and the carrying of more than one passenger, has continued to suffer non enforcement, with the uniform men who are the enforcers, being the culprits all over the state.

But Governor Fashola JRsounded optimistic on Monday while signing the law. He said the present realities in Lagos which is fast emerging Africa’s model mega city have made the new legislation a must.

According to him, “I should have no difficulty at all assenting to these bills. These laws only serve to strengthen our hands towards a more efficient discharge of our responsibilities to protect human lives and properties.

“The bill to prohibit smoking in public places addresses serious public issues. Before the bills were presented, I have read a lot of comments about the possibility of enforcing the laws. But our commitment to public health and public safety is stronger than that”.

Ade Ipaye, the attorney general and commissioner for justice, giving an insight on the new law, said the legislators took cognisance of the dangers posed by public smoking before making moves to ban it in the interest of the general public.

Joshua Bassey