“No Smoking” Law Ignored: Plans To Fine Public Places

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Minister for Health and Social Development, Hon. Ronnie Skelton once again complained in the House of Assembly that people continue to smoke in public places around the Territory with no penalty.

While speaking in the House on 13 October Hon. Skelton complained once more about the illegal smoking situation: “You go to some of these public places and people are still smoking. They think it’s the law here; and law enforcement pass by and they don’t stop them. We pass these laws, but we can’t enforce them,” he said.

In the House of Assembly back in 28 January Hon. Skelton told his colleagues that the no smoking legislation is not being adhered to: “We have passed laws in this country that are not being adhered to and not being enforced. Madam Speaker, we have passed non-smoking law in this country; I go into restaurants [and]hotels; and everybody is smoking – nobody saying anything.”

Hon. Skelton also told the House that businesses that are not adhering to the no-smoking policy may need to be penalized in order to send a message: “All the institutions are supposed to put non-smoking signs in their establishments. These restaurants and stuff without these signs; we have to fine them under the law. I am threatening them that they will be fined because second-hand smoke is killing people. It’s a known fact.”

On 14 November, 2006, the Legislative Council, now the House of Assembly unanimously passed the Tobacco Control Act banning smoking in public places in the BVI. The regulations stipulate that a fine of $50.00 will be charged to any persons smoking tobacco or holding lighted tobacco within 30 feet of the entrance, exit or open windows of offices and office buildings, including public areas, elevators, stairways, and restrooms within the buildings. This stipulation also applies to health institutions, educational institutions, sports facilities, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, facilities rented out for events, premises in which children are cared for, beaches accessible to the public and any other facilities. Some people feel that the fines are too low and not implemented.

The owners or managers are required to post approved “No Smoking” signs in visible areas at the entrance to and within all establishments, including private dwellings with spaces open to the public. A fine of $125.00 will be charged to the owners or managers of public places who fail to prominently display the prescribed signs that clearly indicate smoke-free zones.

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