FRENCH POLYNESIA REFINES ANTI-SMOKING LEGISLATION

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Ban on hold for a year since initially passage

PAPEÉTE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, Jan. 25, 2010) - The French Polynesia Assembly voted unanimously Monday in favor of supplement measures for the nearly year-old public smoking ban law now expected to be rapidly enacted.

While Papeete will not become the completely non-smoking capital of Tahiti and Her Islands, Monday's vote was designed to make the original February 2009 anti-smoking law more realistically applicable within the next month.

Jules Ienfa, the Tong Sang government's public health minister, will organize a new public awareness information campaign to explain what the final version of the law requires.

But despite Monday's vote, there remain further precisions to be made by health officials in where and how the smoking ban law can be applied. Such precisions will decide, for example, whether smoking will be banned in all or some public places.

Such places include health facilities—hospitals, clinics, doctors' offices. They also include hotels and restaurants, where legal exceptions are possible, allowing smokers to enjoy their habit on open terraces. Offices sites will also be included, creating the possibility of creating separate non-smoking areas.

The original smoking ban law adopted nearly a year ago was designed to better protect non-smokers from the dangers of tobacco smoke in public places and help lower the death rate linked to smoking. It also was aimed at helping to encourage smokers to stop their habit.

But some amendments that became part of the original law made the legislation's application difficult. For example, one amendment created a smoking ban within a 100-meter (328-foot) perimeter of any school.

Such a prohibition not only made the law difficult to enforce, but it also intruded on individual liberties, Health Minister Ienfa said Monday.

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