Are you a father or mother, who likes puffing away with careless abandon in the presence of your children?
Desist or you go to jail or pay a fine or both, says a new bill just passed by Lagos House of Assembly. The bill entitled, A Bill for Law to Prohibit Smoking in Designated Places and Vehicles and for Connected Purposes, has made it a criminal offence for any parent or guardian or anybody at all to smoke any kind of cigarette or cigar or other lighted smoking equipment like pipe, in the presence of their children or wards.
Failure to comply with this law may land such a parent or guardian in N15,000 fine or to imprisonment for a term of one month or both, if found guilty by the court.
A child, according to this new law awaiting Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) assent is anybody under the age of 15.
The law also banned smoking in public designated places such as work places, restaurants, bars and nightclubs, shops and shopping centres, hotels, public toilets, buses and other public transportation vehicles.
Owners or managers of such public designated places are supposed to ensure that the approved non-smoking signs or the international no-smoking symbol, are conspicuously and sufficiently displayed on the premises.
In addition to this, they (owners or managers) are supposed to stop a person smoking in their premises. Failure to comply with the law lands them in court and if convicted they may be asked to pay a fine of N100,000 or go to jail for a term of six (6) months or both.
If they are lucky and the judge is magnanimous enough, he may commit their jail sentences into non-custodial punishment (an euphemism for community service).
Danfo drivers and any other drivers of public vehicles are equally not spared by this new law.
Anyone of them caught smoking while driving is liable to the same punishment if convicted by a court. In the case of corporate organization or firm or association, the director, manager, partner, company secretary or other similar officers of the corporate body, would be held liable for contravention of the new law.
Such a person if found guilty by a competent court of jurisdiction shall be liable to a fine of N250,000. According to the law, the authority to administer the provision of this law is vested in the General Manager, Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency ()LASEPA) and he in turn may call on the Lagos State Environmental and Special Offices (the dreaded Task Force) and other law enforcement agents to aid in the enforcement of this new law.
For now, however, smokers may breath an air of relief because the governor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), has not signed the bill into law.
Even after the governor’s assent, the law may not come into effect until six months after the governor’s signature. This is to allow for sensitization, advocacy and awareness.