The Lagos State House of Assembly has forwarded a bill for the Governor’s assent, to regulate smoking in public places. Coincidentally, the Governor is said to be a nicotine man himself but, of course, this is not expected to have any bearing on the bill becoming law. If you’re a smoker and live in Lagos, here are some of the things you need to be aware of.
What is Smoking?
The Law defines smoking as –
- the carrying or holding of any lighted pipe, cigar, cigarette of any kind (think electronic), or any other lighted smoking equipment (think hookah);
- the lighting, inhaling or exhaling of smoke from a pipe, cigar or cigarette of any kind; or
- being in possession of any other lit substance in a form in which it could be smoked.
Smoking is prohibited in all public places as from the commencement of the law, and such places shall be known as No Smoking Areas
What is a Public Place?
“Public Place” means –
- Libraries, Museums, Galleries, Public Toilets, Hospitals, Creches, Nurseries, Day Care Centres, Kindergartens, Nursery/Primary/Secondary Schools, Public Telephone Kiosk or Call Centres, Public Transportation Vehicles, Private Vehicles which have more than one person inside, School buses, restaurants, Cinemas, Theatres, Concert Halls, Conference Centres, Exhibition Halls, Shopping Centres, Retails Shops, Factories and other non-domestic premises in which one or more persons work, Work premises, Lifts, Common Parts of Plats and Communal accommodation, any structure that is enclosed or substantially enclosed and is open to the public.
That’s right. Your car becomes a public place once you’re carrying a passenger.
“Public Places” also includes tertiary institutions, bars and nightclubs and hotels.
You are however free to smoke on streets, roads, highways, etc.
What is the duty of the Owner/Occupier of a Public Place?
- Ensure that “No Smoking” signs are displayed conspicuously at each entrance and in prominent locations throughout the premises;
- Ensure that all No Smoking Areas are fixed with smoke detectors;
- Ensure that smoking outside the premises does not occur within 10 metres of the entrance of the premises;
- Cause a person smoking in a No Smoking Area to stop smoking
However, a section not exceeding 10% of the premises in tertiary institutions, bars, nightclubs and hotels may be designated as a “Smoking Area”.
What’s the Punishment?
- Smoking Contrary to Provisions of the Law: N10,000 – N15,000 fine, or 1 – 3 months imprisonment, or both, or other non-custodial punishment the Judge may deem fit.
- Owner/Occupier Default in Putting Signs Up/Installing Smoke Detectors/Stop People Smoking From Smoking: N100,000 fine, or 6 months imprisonment or both, or other non-custodial punishment the Judge may deem fit.
- If Owner/Occupier is a Corporate: Directors, Managers, Partners, Secretary or other person in Management personally liable to N250,000 each.
- Repeat offenders liable to N100,000 fine, or 6 months imprisonment, or both, or such other non-custodial punishment the Judge may deem fit.
Smoking in the presence of a child under the age of 18 in such a way that exposes the child to any form of smoke or in any other way injurious to the child, makes the offender liable on conviction to a N15,000 fine or 1 month in prison or other non-custodial punishment the Judge may deem fit. Repeat offender liable to N100,000 fine or 1 year in prison, or both.
Who are the Enforcers?
LASEPA – the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency. Hopefully, this means the police can’t go round sneaking up on people to extort them, but we’ll see.
UPDATE: Governor Fashola signed the bill into law on Monday, 17th February 2014.