Public Health Communications Specialist
Ministry of Health/Social Development
Residents of the Virgin Islands are reminded of the dangers of smoking as the Territory observes World Tobacco Day 2023.
Public Health Officer in the Ministry of Health and Social Development Ms. Renee Leonard said that smoking is one of the major risk factors for the development of chronic non-communicable diseases.
“Among the greatest concerns are heart and lung disease and various forms of cancer,” Ms. Leonard said, adding, “We want to advise persons to refrain from this practice and encourage smokers to quit.”
According to Ms. Leonard, there are many benefits to smokers quitting including improved circulation in the hands and feet, improved blood pressure, easier breathing, and a decrease in the risk of lung cancer.
“The bad habit of smoking can reduce your life expectancy, diminish your quality of life and ultimately kill you, so do not think about doing it and if you are already doing it stop,” the Public Health Officer said.
The community is also reminded that the Tobacco Products Control Act 2006 prohibits smoking in public places including office buildings, restrooms, elevators, stairways, health and educational institutions, any premises in which children are cared for a fee, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, beaches accessible to the public and any other facilities.
“We are reminding proprietors and other occupiers of public places that ‘no smoking’ signs must be placed in a prominent area, clearly indicating that the establishment is smoke free and any infractions should be reported to the authorities,” Ms. Leonard said.
The Public Health Officer stated that "No Smoking" signs must be flat and rectangular at a minimum size of eight and a half by eleven inches; must display the symbol for no smoking and carry the message in English, "It is unlawful to smoke in this location".
Owners or managers of public places who fail to prominently display the prescribed signs that clearly indicate smoke-free zones will be liable to pay a fine of $125.
Each year, the World Health Organization (WHO) holds World No Tobacco Day on May 31. Their goal is to spread awareness about the risks of tobacco use and what can be done to make the world tobacco-free. The day is being observed under the theme, “Grow Food not Tobacco.”
The Ministry of Health and Social Development is committed to ensuring that all aspects of the environment with the potential to negatively impact the health of the population are managed efficiently to enable all persons in the BVI to attain and maintain optimal health and well-being.