Smoking ban in effect; enforcement is delayed
In case anybody missed this: http://virginislandsdailynews.com/smoking-ban-in-effect-enforcement-is-delayed-1.1061965
I added the emphasis below.
ST. THOMAS — The new smoking ban goes into effect today, but the V.I. Health Department and the V.I. Licensing and Consumer Affairs Department will not enforce the new law for another three months.
The Smoke-Free Act prohibits smoking in any public place including restaurants, bars and all places of employment. Smoking still will be allowed on beaches, but not within 20 feet of concession stands, restaurants and other businesses located on the beach.
Environmental Health officers will not issue citations until Feb. 10 so businesses will have more time to come into compliance with the new law, Health Commissioner Julia Sheen said in a statement issued Tuesday.
The legislation charges the Health commissioner with the administration and the enforcement of the smoking law. The commissioner also is responsible for putting in rules and regulations to carry out the smoking ban and providing a way for people file complaints with the Health Department to report establishments that violate the law.
Sen. Shawn-Michael Malone, the bill’s primary sponsor, said Sheen is extending a 90-day grace period because she failed to follow the law herself.
According to the law, the Health commissioner is supposed to give notice of the new requirements to businesses, the general public and all government offices three months after enactment. Gov. John deJongh Jr. signed the smoking ban on May 10, and it was enacted, technically, on that day.
“In August, they hadn’t notified any businesses according to the statute,” Malone said.
When Aug. 10 came and went, and Malone had not seen any action taken by the department, he tried to contact Sheen. After phone calls went unreturned, he wrote a letter to Sheen. Four to five weeks later, she responded, saying she had formed a committee to come up with the rules and regulations for the smoking ban but would need more time and would not enforce it for another three months, Malone said.
“It’s unfortunate the way our government works,” Malone said. “They don’t enforce the law unless you, the senator, run behind them and make sure they do.”
Sheen could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Malone said he is glad the department is moving ahead to implement the legislation, regardless of the delay.
The Licensing and Consumer Affairs Department is working with the Health Department to provide literature describing the effects of smoking, tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke to all businesses renewing or applying for a new license. According to a news release, Licensing and Consumer Affairs also will provide information about the requirements of the Virgin Islands Smoke-Free Act to businesses.
For more information, contact the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program at 773-1311 ext. 3198.
— Contact Aldeth Lewin at 774-8772 ext. 311 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Okay, I am a former smoker (the worst kind, right??) and I don't like being around smoke, but this is the most stupid law ever. Every business person is going to have to post "no smoking" signs. There can be no smoking on Main Street because you can't get 20 feet away from a door. An open air bar with a roof constitutes a building. Silly, silly, silly. And the enforcement will be like that for all other laws: inconsistent and discriminatory. :X
And while I'm at it...isn't there a law against dogs being in places where food is served? What is up with everyone suddenly taking their dogs out for dinner?
I am a smoker. i do not like going into the case place because of the smell. i do not smoke inside our house or car. that being said i am a bit surprised of the open air eateries that you can not smoke at. Oh well.
I would like to see them enforce this law at jump ups and any other downtown events. should be interesting.
Would like them to enact an open container law.
That would be like having a open container law on the strip in Vegas, or on Beale Street in Memphis. You really want the free rum at the airport for the tourists to go away? The guys on the street selling beverages to go away. This will never happen, the entire economy is based upon cruise ships coming in, and tourists being able to walk around the streets with a beverage, or sit on the beach with a beverage. I don't want to live in "Florida", I want to live in the Virgin Islands.
As for the smoking law, I am a reformed smoker (the worst kind, right?) that occasionally enjoys a nice cigar, but I am for smoking bands on inside establishments. (Caribbean Saloon for example) However, it is tough to define what is inside and outside here at some establishments. Puerto Rico did this right, you are prohibited from smoking if there is a roof over your head, if there is no roof over your head, then you can smoke all you want. For example, a cabana bar, you can not smoke at the bar because there is a little overhang over your head, step back 5 feet from under the roof and your good to smoke. If you think air that is that diluted will give you cancer, then you probably shouldn't be out in the sun either, because that can give you cancer too, and don't even get me started on cell phones and cancer. I do think smokers have a responsibility to smoke far enough away as to not be detrimental to my health. For me, outside, 5 feet from me is safe enough for me.
My bottom line is that you should quit making laws until you can enforce the ones you have on the books.
Keep in mind though, this is my opinion, and yours and others are likely to differ greatly from mine. You know what they say about opinions right? They are like arm pits, we all have them, and they all stink. 😀
Most of the people out supporting the bars and restaurants are transplants and tourists. Most of the people that smoke are transplants and tourists. While I strongly agree smoking should be banned in closed in places like bombay or case place (like Paradise Cafe did), in fact I think the owners should have decided to do it long ago, I don't see the point in doing it in open air restaurants.
I'd much much rather them be out focus on stopping crime then having another silly thing like seat belt laws and cell phone tickets to hand out. This will just be another easy money maker. Its just another silly law on the books like not being able to wear your suit downtown.
It's not hard to pay attention to where your smoke blows. I smoked for 9 years and when I was at a bar/restaurant I'd always blow my smoke up in the air rather than straight out or down. If somebody was eating next to me, I'd either move to smoke or just wait 10 minutes. Maybe I was over the top courteous, but it didn't take too much effort to NOT ruin somebody's meal.
They aren't banning Happy Meals, they're only offering a free toy if you purchase a healthy version of the happy meal. If you get it with McNuggets and fries, you pay extra for the toy separately. Maybe the parents will stop planting the diabetes and obesity seed and cook for their damn kids instead. Probably not.
I don't think my students missed the point.
Americans love freedom. I have the freedom to smoke. I do not have the right to deprive you of your right to breathe safe air.
Of course, US tort law may have been wrong for 200 years. Maybe I do have the right to blow my smoke in your face.
But please don't smoke where your smoke must be inhaled by innocent bystanders.
In it's current form, the City Commissioners have voted to prohibit restaurants from offering a free toy alongside any meal that exceeds set levels of calories and fat. Meals that come with a toy must include fruit and vegetables and may not exceed 600 calories. If that's not a ban on a Happy Meal or meals in kind I don't know what else to call it.:S
Like I said give it a break or a rest, Have you let somebody blow smoke in your face?:-o