N Touch
Tuesday 18 December 2018
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Editorial

Scratched bombs

WE WELCOME the Government’s announcement of an intention to ban the sale of scratch bombs. But now that a clear policy directive has been made enforcement must follow.

Whatever little pleasure or entertainment some may derive from these items, their hazardous nature outweighs it. Scratch bombs have been proven time and time again to be difficult to control. Often, they can be weaponised and used against unsuspecting members of the public. Given this, some form of regulation was long overdue.

We are glad the Cabinet has judged it appropriate to go beyond regulation and to impose an outright ban. It will now be for State officials to determine exactly what legal form this ban will take. However the policy is implemented, the State needs to ensure it is in a position to also uphold the law. This means the sale of these items needs to be vigorously policed and errant vendors, when identified, held accountable.

Also, it must not be forgotten that scratch bombs are not items that exist in a vacuum. They are part of a wider, noisy, fireworks culture. The State must address the whole assortment of these commodities in the context of the need to ensure our environmental noise pollution rules are adhered too.

In this regard, we have to look at the legislation currently in place to determine whether the existing penalties are adequate. There are some businesses that would readily pay a $400 fine rather than say no to lucrative sales. Additionally, greater attention should be paid to the law’s scheme of zoning when it comes to areas in which fireworks are permissible.

None of this should imply a contentious relationship between the State and business. Rather, with stronger measures in place, the State is in a better position to issue clear guidelines and to work with businesses to ensure compliance.

We hope the legal provisions needed to bring about this ban will be speedily promulgated, and this time around there will be action to ensure an effective ban with no ambiguity over importation, sale, sharing and possession of scratch bombs.

We welcome this new ban, but there is still work to be done when it comes to the wider issue of fireworks, penalties, and enforcement. Fireworks are big business and are beautiful. But they pose risks to people who may not voluntarily choose to subject themselves to such. Neighbours with health issues and animals are among those caught up. This move assures them relief beginning immediately, hopefully.

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