CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands — The U.S. Virgin Islands has banned smoking at all beaches inside its national park system.
The smoking ban covers cigars and pipes as well as cigarettes and is enforced from within 50 feet (15 meters) of the shoreline.
National Park Acting Superintendent Mike Anderson said Wednesday that the ban applies to all 12 of the territory’s protected beaches, which are on the island of St. John. Rangers are not yet issuing citations but rather educating the public.
The ban was approved to eliminate secondhand smoke and reduce the number of cigarette butts tossed on beaches.
International Coastal Cleanup Day campaigns in Puerto Rico and countries around the world have shown that cigarette butts account for about 20 percent of trash collected, more than any other item. Plastic bags and bottles are second.
In Puerto Rico, a bill to ban smoking on all public beaches was filed in the local legislature last year but wasn’t approved.
Puerto Rico already has the toughest anti-smoking laws in the U.S. and one of the strictest in the world. Law 40, enacted in 2007, prohibits smoking in restaurants, bars, liquor stores, casinos, shopping centers and outdoor cafés, among other places. People are permitted to smoke in their homes, and on the street. Smoking in a vehicle is off limits if a child under the age of 13 is present.
CARIBBEAN BUSINESS staff contributed to this report.