Friday, November 17, 2006

Non-Smoking Measures Passed by BVI Legislative Council

Important information for smokers traveling to the BVI.

The British Virgin Islands' Legislative Council unanimously passed the Tobacco Control Act on November 15, 2006. According to this Act, smoking will be banned in public places in the BVI, including offices, restaurants, bars, etc. People will not be allowed to smoke in enclosed public places or within 50 feet (15 meters) of a door or window to such a place.

The Tobacco Control Act will also regulate the promotion, distribution and use of tobacco products in the British Virgin Islands. The measures implemented ban selling tobacco to minors and give the authority to regulate tobacco advertising and sales to the government. The smokers will be given a six-month period to adjust to the ban measures.

These restrictions are implemented despite concerns about their effect on tourism in BVI. Ronnie Skelton, the British territory's minister of health and social development, has commented on the objections that "The concern for public health obviously outweighs any of the other concerns''.

Presenting the bill for its second and third reading, Mr. Skelton said he was happy that the bill got the needed support to pass through Legislative Council. The new measure will soon be signed by Gov. David Pearey. The government still has to determine the penalties for violations.

It should be noted that some other territories, including Puerto Rico and Bermuda, have recently imposed prohibitions on smoking.

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