DOH Extends Smoke-Free Act Compliance

Department of Health Commissioner Julia Sheen announced last week that the Virgin Islands Smoke-Free Act, No. 7171, which prohibits smoking in public places was to take effect Wednesday, November 10, 2010.

The Smoke -Free Act was enacted by the Legislature on April 17, 2010 and signed into law by Governor John deJongh on May 10. DOH is granting all businesses in the Virgin Islands an additional three months to come into compliance with the law. Accordingly, the DOH’s Environmental Health officers will not be issuing citations until after that time.

DOH will continue its public education efforts during this period and provide businesses with technical assistance as needed.

The Smoke-Free Act specifically prohibits smoking in the Virgin Islands in enclosed areas of public places which includes all restaurants, bars, casinos and other places of employment; within 20 feet from any point of service or waiting line; and within 20 feet of all outdoor public transportation stations and platform shelters opened to the public.

The Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs is working in conjunction with DOH to provide all businesses renewing or applying for a new license with literature describing the effects of smoking, tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke, Sheen explained.

The educational materials will also include information on the requirements of the Virgin Islands Smoke-Free Act such as businesses being required to post “No Smoking signs” in their establishments.

Inquiries about the Smoke Free Act should be made to the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program, by calling 773-1311 ext. 3198.