BVI News

Smoking in shared private spaces and the law | RVIPF’s limits to act

Smoking in public places is illegal, but what provisions are there in the law for those smoking in shared private domiciles where second-hand smoke directly affects a non-consenting party?

According to Acting Sergeant of Police Nicholas Tranquille, there is no violation being committed in such a scenario.

A complaint was recently made to the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force (RVIPF) in relation to two tenants of an apartment building — a male smoker and a female non-smoker.

The complaint was that second-hand smoke was affecting the female tenant but the male smoker refuses to put out his tobacco cigarette. The police, however, said they have no jurisdiction to act on the complaint.

“I am not saying she doesn’t have recourse. I am saying there is no violation there because the fact of the matter is, she is living in a private accommodation, and the guy is sharing next to her. There is no offence there,” Officer Tranquille told BVI News reporter Esther Durand in a telephone conversation on Tuesday.

“It doesn’t empower me as the police to come and say to the guy, ‘listen, stop smoking.’ There is a law, but the law speaks about public places; a public setting,” he explained.

The police sergeant further said the relevant authority to seek recourse from in such an instance is the registered property owner — the landlord.

But even then, it is at the landlord’s discretion whether to implement a policy about smoking on the property, Officer Tranquille explained.

Smoking woes

The female tenant in question has made the landlord aware of the situation countless times. But, no real effort has been made to put a halt to issue, which has been affecting her since she first rented the apartment nearly three years ago.

She said it is the smoke — which saturates her apartment when left unchecked — that bothers her. 

The Centre for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) indicates that second-hand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals; hundreds of which are toxic and about 70 that can cause cancer.

Over a million dies from second-hand smoke yearly

Second-hand smoke causes numerous health problems such as respiratory infections, ear infections, sudden infant death syndrome, and more frequent respiratory attacks in asthmatics.

The World Health Organisation has reported that tobacco smoking kills more than 8 million people each year. It said 1.2 million of those deaths are the result of non-smokers being exposed to second-hand smoke.

Legal recourse?

BVI News sought the opinion of a local attorney on whether legal action can be taken.

The attorney, who did not want her name publicised, said the situation at hand “is a civil matter”. 

“That is a matter only if they have breached the tenancy agreement, if the tenancy agreement laid out what conduct all the parties must have while they are tenants. It has to be something done in violation of your tenancy agreement,” she explained.

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  1. Simple says:

    Miss move, 3 years you there who forcing you

    Like 14
    Dislike 2
    • Lmao says:

      With so much going on, Covid, unemployment, corruption and this is an issue. Get a life. You don’t like it there move. Otherwise STFU and sit down.

      Like 3
      Dislike 2
    • What a thing says:

      Move is exactly right, the man live in his space what he is paying for. So if she don’t like the smoke she need to find someplace else or deal with it.

      Like 16
      Dislike 3
    • Me says:

      Is that your only reasoning? Poor u

  2. need to tek his meds says:

    That cop is talking out of his head because he dont know wha he saying

  3. Selfmade says:

    Am not an attorney but I’m of the openion she can take legal action. There is enough scientific evidence to support second hand smoke causes death. At present he is threatening her life.

    If I own a license firearm and fire a few shots at my neighbor – have I not threatened their life?

    It doesn’t matter if it’s legal for me to own that firearm. I am acting in a manner knowing the consequences of my actions can lead to death.

    Just saying

    Like 4
    Dislike 16
    • Where I from says:

      We does call you “dotish”

    • Don't give up the day job says:

      There isn’t a direct link between smoking and cancer never mind second hand smoke. There are statistics.

      You’re not an attorney, are you a medical professional or lab researcher?

      I am neither but believe me have looked for all this scientific data proving a direct link. Guess what there isn’t one. If there was then tobacco would be banned from sale, it isn’t. The disclaimers are there to stop law suits.

      Do vaccines cause autism? There is no evidence for a direct link but plenty of claims and pay-outs are made on the basis that the vaccine caused autism. Do you see the similarities?

      If there is a direct link between smoking and cancer why do the majority of smokers not get cancer?

      Like 1
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  4. aromas says:

    ayo go down ar***s to watch the sport and the second hand smoke is terrible.

    Like 2
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  5. Nonesense says:

    People unconsciously inhale pathogens every moment of the day, be they exhaust fumes, marijuana, cigarette second hand smoke,and other invisible deadly unseen or smelt toxins in the air, whether in or out of a place of abode.

    One sit in traffic for minutes every day exposes one to multiple dangerous pathogens.

    Of course one must have and feel some degree of safety at an abode.

    In such a case, both parties should come to the realization that both have equal right to exist in each place of abode and do as each pleases.

    The difficulty arises when one’s personal habits goes contrary to that of the other and one feels offended or is affected thereby.

    Only compromises can affect change on both sides of that debate without usurping individual rights, or enact laws to accomplish the same results..

    • Yes says:

      Absolutely. If she wants to complain then she had better not get into another vehicle ever again in her life. Not fly or take a ferry, not buy imported food or water, not use electricity at home unless it’s from solar, give up internet and cell phone, never have a bbq, stop using the drier for her laundry, etc etc.

      She could also be rallying government to do something about the burning of garbage in the open landfill site, but I assume she only cares about herself and her personal space.

      Like 3
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  6. Lightbulb moment says:

    Close the window. Problem solved.

    People are far too precious these days and can’t seem to tolerate other people’s idiosyncrasies. What if the male neighbour is having a bbq or burning incense for morning meditation. Is she going to call the police because she doesn’t like the smell?

    Some people would! That’s how pathetic some people are.

    Woe to the day when laws prevent people acting freely within the confines of their own home be it owned or rented.

  7. Jaemi says:

    There is nothing pathetic about that. It is unlawful for one to be a nuisance to his/ her neighbour, but who is in the kitchen feels the heath so there will be criticism.

  8. Joke says:

    They’re not even enforcing smoking in public, much less.

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