Northern Mariana Islands - bans smoking in most public areas..

September 30, 2009 - Gov. Benigno R. Fitial signed into law yesterday a measure that bans smoking in virtually all areas in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), except in private residences, most private bars, casinos, and departure terminal of airports.

(Saipan is the largest island and capital of the United States Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), a chain of 15 tropical islands belonging to the Marianas archipelago in the western Pacific Ocean. A self-governing U.S. territory.)

With the governor's enactment of the Smoke-Free Air Act of 2008, smoking is now prohibited in government facilities, schools, places of employment, vehicles and public places-a development that was hailed by health advocates, non-smokers, and even smokers who want to quit.

The sweeping smoking ban law means if any member of the Legislature, for example, wants to smoke cigarettes outside, he or she needs to be at least 26 feet away from the legislative building's doorway entrance or exit on Capital Hill. Smoking is not allowed within 25 feet of any doorway entrance or exit to a government facility or building.

Violators face a fine of up to $200 and completion of a mandatory tobacco prevention and/or cessation course, while owners of places where the violation occurs face a fine of up to $500 and revocation of a business license.

Fitial, a non-smoker, has long hailed private and public entities that have volunteered to ban smoking in their premises even before the enactment of any law prohibiting smoking.

Reference: No-smoking bill now a law Before you light that cigarette, think again by Haidee V. Eugenio, Saipan Tribune, 10/1/2009.



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