The Governor is expected to sign a bill prohibiting smoking in bars, restaurants, picnic areas and Virgin Islands beaches which are public parks.
Health concerns about the effect of second hand smoke are behind the legislation which is heartily endorsed by St. John's At Large Senator Craig Barshinger.
During a hearing on the Virgin Islands Smoke-Free Act, the Senate's Heath Committee heard testimony that while smokers nationwide account for 20 percent of the population, but in the VI's the number is six percent.
"Smokers think differently from nonsmokers," Barshinger said during the hearing, the Virgin Islands Daily News reported. "They think they're doing just something like listening to an iPod … but actually they're polluting the air."
During the hearing, the question of enforcement came up. One thought is to have the Health Department handle it while it was also suggested that business owners could be the 'smoke police' and caution their customers to snuff it.
So, Deputy Health Commissioner Lynette George, predictably suggested that the Department could hire enforcement officers. Like a dog reacts to the word 'squirrel', the government’s ears perk up at the mere whisper of the word 'jobs.'
The St. John Tradewinds reported several island restaurant owners endorsed the Smoke-Free bill, not worrying it would hurt business. But, obviously, the idea of them being smoke monitors has its own conflicts.