VINP Announces Smoke-Free Beaches

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Effective immediately the prohibition of smoking and tobacco use on all National Park beaches within 50 feet of the water line in both directions, Virgin Islands National Park and Coral Reef National Monument Acting Park Superintendent Mike Anderson announced on Thursday, January 31. 

The decision was made after the VINP Superintendent reviewed several public comments related to the impacts of smoking on park visitors and the marine environment. 

The full extent of this action is outlined under the 2013 Park Compendium and 36 Code of Federal Regulations 2.21 Smoking.

36 CFR Section 2.21 Smoking:
(a) The Superintendent may designate a portion of a park area, or all or a portion of a building, structure, or facility as closed to smoking when necessary to protect park resources, reduce the risk of fire, or prevent conflicts among visitor use activities.  Smoking in an area or location so designated is prohibited.
2013 Park Compendium:
61. Smoking is prohibited as follows:
A. Within the interior portions of all NPS buildings.
B. At locations posted as no smoking areas
C. Within 50 feet of a gas pump or flammable materials storage area.
D. Smoking is prohibited on all Park beaches within 50 feet of the waterline in both directions, Park picnic pavilions, and inside restrooms.

The purpose of the tobacco prohibition on park beaches is to protect all visitors and the marine environment. Smoking and smoking debris pose a second hand smoke hazard to park visitors and constitutes a general safety and sanitation hazard especially to small children playing on the beach. 

The accumulation of toxic cigarette butts and other tobacco byproducts directly onto Park beaches is a preventable hazard to park marine life. Birds and marine animals can ingest cigarette butts leading to choking, poisoning, and or death.

The plastic and toxic chemicals found in cigarette butts leach into the marine environment within one hour of contact with water. Over time this leads to the bioaccumulation of toxins from cigarette litter which is ultimately passed up the food chain throughout the marine environment.
Research has shown every littered cigarette butt can take from two to 25 years to breakdown as toxic chemical compounds continuously leaching into the environment.

Smoke Free Beach signs along with cigarette disposal receptacles will be ordered and installed in heavy visitor use areas. Smoking will be allowed in all other areas of VINP, but excluded in areas specifically designated as closed to smoking as outlined in the Park’s Compendium. The VINP Compendium is available to the public upon request.

This notice also serves as a reminder that throughout VINP, discarding cigarette butts, tobacco products or any containers is considered littering thus is prohibited. This regulation is under 36 Code of Federal Regulations 2.14 Sanitation and Refuse.

VINP officials have already heard positive responses to the smoking ban, explained VINP Chief Ranger Lloyd Morris.

“Most people are happy about it,” said Morris. “Most people are compliant. We haven’t had anyone being negative about this smoking ban.”

“Some people who were smokers were disappointed, but no one has been adamant or angry about this,” Morris said. “This has been greeted with a lot of positive responses.”

For more information contact Morris at (340) 776-6201, ext. 254, or write to VINP Deputy Superintendent, Mike Anderson; Virgin Islands National Park; 1300 Cruz Bay Creek; St. John, Virgin Islands 00830.