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Under-25s could be banned from buying cigarettes in UK

Under-25s could be banned from buying cigarettes in UK
Mar 15 2022 Share

Anyone under the age of 25 could be permanently banned from purchasing cigarettes in the UK in a bid to become a smoke free nation.

Health secretary Sajid Javid commissioned the upcoming report, with Javed Khan OBE set to outline feedback next month, Daily Mail revealed. The former CEO of children’s charity Barnardo’s, Khan is supporting the UK’s plan to be smoke free by 2030. 

There are an estimated 6 million smokers in England, with tobacco still being the single largest cause of preventable death. 64,000 people died from smoking n 2019, according to the Office for National Statistics. 

Khan considered measures such as the ones implemented in New Zealand, in which anyone born after 2008 won’t be able to buy tobacco products. However, Khan argued in favour of raising the age to 19, 20 or even 25. 

He went on to compare the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that social media influencers and similar manoeuvres urged people to get vaccinated in mass. 

Tweeting out, Khan said that he wants to hear views and ‘what we can do to support current smokers to quit, and to stop people taking up smoking. How do we stop people, especially children and young people, from starting smoking in the first place?’ 

Do you think such a measure should be implemented in Malta? 

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Facebook commenter saying Aquilina brothers should hang gets jail term

Facebook commenter saying Aquilina brothers should hang gets jail term
Mar 15 2022 Share

After a man took to Facebook to comment that Nationalist MP Karol Aquilina and his brother and president of Repubblika Robert should hang, he was given a seven month suspended jail term after admitting guilt. 

The 56-year-old from Gzira admitted to writing the comment beneath a post on the Facebook page of news page TVM, with the post reporting how Sandro Farrugia had been fined €400 and conditionally discharged for two years after admitting to writing on Facebook that the siblings deserved ‘a good beating once and for all.’ 

In response, the commenter in question wrote; ‘That’s why he was convicted. They deserve to be hung’, followed by a smiley teardrop emoji. 

Prosecuting police inspector Joseph Busuttil said he had received a report by the Aquilina brothers, which led to the arraignment of the commenter. The accused apologised for his actions during his police statement, with Busuttil saying that he still had to go ahead and persecute since his actions were against the law. 

He was charged with the misuse of electronic equipment to incite hatred last October. His defence lawyer Ezekiel Psaila said his client had been using colloquial language during the submissions of punishment. 

He added how the accused had not even read the news he was commenting about and made a mistake by making that comment. ‘He should not be turned into a sacrificial lamb. I want justice, not victims.’ However, lawyer Therese Comodini Cachia stressed that Galea’s language should not be trivialised. 

Following the guilty plea, the brothers expressed a wish to have their say. However, since there there was an admission, the inspector and the defence agreed there was no need. Robert Aquilina told the inspector that he would inform the Police Commissioner about this as he wanted to give the context. The inspector took offence and informed the magistrate he was being threatened. 

Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit said this was basic education and said that while it was OK to criticise constructively, using such comments was not right. The commenter was bound not to harass the brothers for a year against a €500 fine in default. The seven month jail term is suspended for 18 months. 

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Maltese man travels to Polish border to help Ukrainian refugees

Maltese man travels to Polish border to help Ukrainian refugees
Mar 15 2022 Share

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has displaced millions of Ukrainians as they all seek shelter and safety from the ongoing bombardment of their home country.

As countries impose sanctions and welcome in Ukrainian refugees into their land, one local Maltese man has travelled to the Polish-Ukrainian border to help with the humanitarian effort. 

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Marc Edward Pace Portanier has joined a team of people renting vans and helping transport refugees from the Polish border crossing in Zusin to Lublin. 

With Poland taking in more than 1.4 million refugees since the start of the invasion in February, Marc told newsroom Times of Malta how they started to play a role in the effort. Starting out with just one car, Marc revealed how they helped with logistics and getting people who wished to travel to other parts of Poland. 

Transport systems such as buses and trains are currently free for fleeing Ukrainians in Poland. ‘We are helping out by doing the two-hour trip from the reception centre to the inner city and assisting them in planning out how they can arrive at their next destination’ said the Maltese. 

The effort is coordinated by the Change a Life Foundation, a child focused charity created by Marc’s two friends Paweł Dziubiński and Wojciech Sielicki. The group has so far raised funds to rent an eight-seater van and a 50 seater bus to increase trip capacity. 

The NGO is working to coordinate shelter and accommodation for refugees, as well as setting up a temporary home for unaccompanied minors. Marc highlighted the incredible effort people are putting into helping the Ukrainians. 

‘I knew what to expect but once you’re there and see the raw situation, you need to cut out emotions’ said Marc. ‘Everyone is doing their best to help but, sometimes, you have to make the hard decision and accept that you cannot help everyone who is there.’

‘It’s a good feeling to be part of something bigger’ said Marc as he continues his well-needed work to help the Ukrainians. 

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Malta Airport appeals to remove COVID restrictions as travel boosts

Malta Airport appeals to remove COVID restrictions as travel boosts
Mar 15 2022 Share

The Malta International Airport has appealed for the removal of remaining travel restrictions as passenger traffic into the MIA increased sevenfold over the same month in 2021. 

The traffic still remains 45.2% below pre-pandemic 2019 levels at 196,000. With traffic figures showing signs of demand-driven recovery in tourism, the MIA CEO Alan Borg has insisted the health authorities remove all remaining restrictions. 

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Last February’s traffic saw a significant increase of 24% over January, with Borg saying that this double digit growth indicates that the easing of travel restrictions unleashed a demand for air travel. 

‘Further indicating that this increase was driven by demand rather than improved capacity, is the drop of 3% in February’s seat capacity compared to January’s’ he said. The seat load factor for February was just 5.1% lower than 2019 levels, standing at 70.7%. 

Borg said that traffic results for February clearly indicate that two years into the WHO’s declaration of a pandemic, people are ready to travel.

‘At the same time, our industry is facing a spate of new uncertainties and challenges, such as rising oil prices which re likely to push up fares, which are stemming from the war in Ukraine’ said Borg. The CEO highlighted how summer is just weeks away and thus the health authorities need to remove any remaining restrictions. 

This would also give industry stakeholders the confidence to invest in their business and ‘be optimistic for the future at this very delicate time.’ 

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