Avid smoker and Member of Parliament, Sir Robin Yearwood has levelled strong criticism against his government’s plan to regulate the use of tobacco within the twin island state.
In the first consultation, yesterday, with stakeholders ahead of the planned Tobacco Control Bill at the Parliament building, Sir Robin said that the government has no right to tell residents where they can “take a puff” as recreation.
The St Phillips North MP also questioned whether or not his government plans to ban alcohol, which studies have shown is bad for the health.
“I am a firm believer that where your rights end, mine begins and I have a right just like how you the non-smoker have a right.
Walking on government street is not yours, it is ours,” Sir Robin said. “You come and want to ban sugar and in the great America and Europe they ain’t’ ban none yet but the guinea pigs must do it. Nobody or no government is going to put my right at risk and I sit in a government.”
The veteran politician questioned the legitimacy of statistics quoted on the negative effects of tobacco use since, according to him, those studies are usually conducted by people opposed to the tobacco industry.
The minister said he is not prepared to stop smoking unless his doctor says he needs to do so.
“I used to smoke a cigarette and when I stopped I felt a little funny, but thank God I came out from that and I am in the good thing now, cigars. Many people who smoke cigars are in their 90s and they gone over 100,” he added.
In the middle of Sir Robin’s presentation, he was interrupted by MP Asot Michael who told his colleague that he, too, is a smoker who has failed many attempts to quit, and that he hoped to be free of his addiction because he has experienced first-hand the consequences of smoking.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)