Anyone that tries to depict GRTU as a lobby in favour of smoking or passive smoking is very, very wrong, not to say dishonest. We have made this clear enough in our interventions in the media. And Vince Farrugia is not disloyal to anyone but true to the thousands of smaller entrepreneurs represented by GRTU when he states that politicians that messed up with trading licences did not enjoy their power too long. It is not a threat. It's a true fact of Maltese political history. He who does not take this seriously does so at his peril.

And it is absolutely silly to depict Mr Farrugia as a smoker who has a personal axe to grind. Mr Farrugia is not a smoker and anyone who has been to his office knows of his objection to passive smoking.

The point GRTU is making, however, is not so difficult to be understood by those who want to listen.

Smoking is a social habit. It is not a criminal act. Employers and owners of enterprises cannot be made responsible under heavy penalties of up to Lm500 and up to Lm50 a day and extended to prison sentences of up to three months and suspension of working place operating licences simply because smoking takes place in their establishment. This is an affront to private investment in Malta and whoever drafted and approved those regulations should have the grace to admit a grave mistake and to rethink and re-draw the regulations without much more fuss.

Achieving agreed aims to reduce smoking is one thing but castigating employers and enterprise is something else. We will not have it and we will fight it because it is unjust. Only stubbornness on the part of the minister will be to blame if the issue is allowed to escalate.


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