Suriname – comprehensive tobacco control legislation passed

The Suriname Parliament unanimously passed comprehensive tobacco control legislation on 7 February 2013.

The Suriname Ministry of Health with the assistance of the Pan American Health Organization authored the tobacco control bill. During the Parliamentary debate, members of Parliament were presented with examples of best legislative practices from Parties to the WHO FCTC in an attempt to sensitize them about the benefits of implementing comprehensive tobacco control strategies, including those aimed at preventing exposure to tobacco smoke. The legislation will be enforced from 7 June 2013.

The bill was passed despite attempts by hospitality and tobacco industry lobbyists to modify the draft legislation in order to permit designated smoking areas, exempt casinos and allow tobacco promotion.

The new act includes measures such as:

  • banning smoking in public places, workplaces and public transport, including restaurants, pubs, bars and casinos, as well as waiting areas of public transport terminals;
  • banning all forms of tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship, including corporate social responsibility actions by the tobacco industry;
  • banning the sale of tobacco products to and by minors and banning the use of vending machines to sell tobacco products;
  • forbidding the importation, distribution and sale of electronic cigarettes;
  • requiring pictorial health warnings on all tobacco product packaging;
  • requiring the Minister of Health to: set up a body responsible for developing, implementing and monitoring a national tobacco control strategic plan; promote research and epidemiological surveillance of tobacco use; and promote cooperation between national authorities, nongovernmental organizations and other relevant stakeholders in implementing the national tobacco control strategy.

The law also regulates compliance and enforcement, including sanctions for non-compliance, and foresees the development of regulations to ensure full implementation of the law.

More information is available from Dr Maltie Algoe, Ministry of Health of Suriname (maltiealgoe@yahoo.com).

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