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Northern Mariana Islands

Public health groups and advocates in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) have worked for the last few years to educate their communities about the health hazards of secondhand smoke exposure and benefits of smokefree workplaces.

On September 29, 2009, Governor Benigno R. Fitial signed a bill for smokefree workplaces and restaurants into law. Although it makes most public places smokefree, it unfortunately exempts bars, casinos, and departure terminals in airports - and the people who work in those worksites. This law is a major step forward to protect the health of CNMI's workers and visitors, and sets the stage for strengthening it in the future. Congratulations to CNMI for remarkable progress on smokefree air. CNMI currently has the strongest smokefree law in the Pacific Basin.

Read CNMI's smokefree workplace and restaurant law.

Members of the CNMI Substance Abuse Coalition and CNMI Diabetes Coalition support House Bill 16-46 for smokefree air at its Senate Conference Committee hearing in September 2009.





Smokefree News

Brown: Best Sunshine on notice with smoking concerns
Saipan Tribune - November 9, 2015

The chief executive officer of Saipans casino said they are planning to implement air curtain walls at each of their gaming facility to address concerns from the public on the secondhand smoke that exudes from their facility. ...

Senate strikes out enclosed smoking exemption
Saipan Tribune - October 30, 2015

The Senate yesterday deleted in its entirety an amendment to the casino law that would have exempted Best Sunshine Live from enclosing its casino floor off from the harmful second hand smoke that emanates from its gaming floor, removing the provision after hearing clamor from health officials worried about the poor precedent and public health hazard it would cause.

Senate passes bill to ban electronic cigarettes
Marianas Variety - May 4, 2015

TINIAN The Senate on Friday passed a bill that will prohibit smoking electronic cigarettes in the commonwealth. Seven members headed by President Victor ...

Lawmaker drafts vehicle smoke-free policy
Marianas Variety - October 8, 2014

A LAWMAKER has introduced a bill that would prohibit smoking in a vehicle if a minor is in that vehicle too. Rep. Richard Seman's House Bill 18-210 aims to ...

Senate expands to 30 percent hotel rooms, balconies where smoking may be allowed
Saipan Tribune (mp), 2011-01-31
Haidee V. Eugenio Reporter

By a vote of 9-0, the Senate passed on Friday its own bill expanding from 20 percent to 30 percent the number of rooms at each hotel that can be designated as smoking areas. ...

House expands from 20 to 80 pct. hotel rooms where smoking may be allowed
By Haidee V. Eugenio
Saipan Tribune, January 18, 2011

By a vote of 15-0, the House passed on Thursday a bill amending the anti-smoking law to increase from 20 percent to 80 percent the number of rooms at each hotel that can be designated as smoking areas.

“This is a significant increase, but people should remember that this only applies to hotels and not any other business establishments like restaurants,” Rep. Sylvester Iguel (Cov-Saipan) said yesterday.

Iguel, chairman of the House Committee on Health, said the bill is backed by the hotel industry.

Signed on Sept. 29, 2009, Public Law 16-46 or the Smoke-Free Air Act of 2008 bans smoking in many public areas in the CNMI.

What the House did on Thursday was to amend Section 3177(c) to increase the percentage of hotel rooms designated as smoking rooms, from 20 percent to 80 percent. ...

King, B.A.; Dube, S.R.; Ko, J.Y., "Secondhand smoke concentrations in hospitality venues in the Pacific Basin: findings from American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam," Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention 12(11): 2881-2885, 2011.

This air quality study conducted in American Samoa, Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) bars and restaurants found that particulate matter (PM2) concentrations where smoking is permitted [arithmetic mean (AM)=299.98 µg/m3; geometric mean (GM)=200.39 µg/m3] was significantly higher (p<0.001) than smoke-free venues [AM=8.33 µg/m3; GM=6.14 µg/m3]. In venues where smoking was permitted during certain hours, the average level of of PM2 outside of these hours was significantly higher [AM=42.10 µg/m3; GM=41.87 µg/m3] than smokefree venues. The researchers urged for smokefree venues.

Fernandez: NMC campus is now a smoke-free zone
Saipan Tribune - November 17, 2009

More than a month since the passage of a law that bans smoking in public places, the Northern Marianas College assured the public yesterday that the campus is now a smoke-free zone and is drafting policy that would address student violators.

College president Dr. Carmen Fernandez said the institution is compliant with Public Law 16-46, and that smoking is no longer allowed anywhere on NMC property.

Fernandez said that, soon after the enactment of the anti-smoking law, she issued a memorandum to all employees to inform them of the law's application on campus. She said she expects all students, faculty, and staff to comply with the measure.

“Any violations will be handled in accordance with the law and Board of Regents policy,” Fernandez's said, adding that the management is also working on regulations that further clarify how violations will be handled.

Posters and flyers will soon be disseminated on campus to help spread the word about the new law. The information will include resources that offer support and assistance to those who want to quit smoking. ...

No-smoking bill now a law
Saipan Tribune - Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands, Micronesia, September 30, 2009

Before you light that cigarette, think again.

Gov. Benigno R. Fitial signed into law yesterday a measure that bans smoking in virtually all areas in the CNMI, except in private residences, most private bars, casinos, and departure terminal of airports.

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

…The measure adopts the findings of the Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation, which states that secondhand smoke is a known cancer-causing agent that ...

Anti smoking laws edge closer in Northern Marianas
Radio New Zealand International, September 9, 2009

A bill banning smoking in workplaces and public areas in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands has passed another hurdle and is now on its way to the Governor’s office for approval.

The bill was passed unanimously by the Senate last week.

The Saipan Tribune reports it has now been passed in the House.

The smoke free bill bans smoking in all work and public places but bars, private residences, retail tobacco stores, and hotels do not come under the legislation.

Senate endorses smoke-free bill

THE bill that will ban smoking at all restaurants in the CNMI finally moved forward yesterday after more than a year of inaction as the Senate unanimously adopted a standing committee report endorsing its passage.

Public Health Director Dr. Richard Brostrom allayed fears of some senators that the measure would not be good for the tourism-based economy of the CNMI.

"This is good for the economy. I tell you this will not hurt the economy," said Brostrom who was among those who testified before the Senate in support of House Bill 16-47 which Rep. Justo S. Quitugua, D-Saipan, sponsored.

Brostrom, who was recently recognized by the U.S. Department of the Interior for his humanitarian mission to help fight tuberculosis in Nepal, said enacting the Smoke-Free Air Act of 2008 will help the economy because residents will become healthier, therefore, reducing the burden on public health care.

He said different studies showed that heart attacks and strokes went down in states where the smoke-free law is followed.
George Cruz, the president of the Commonwealth Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition and Diabetes Prevention Coalition, said passing the Smoke-Free Air Act of 2008 will be the 16th Legislature's legacy to the people of the CNMI.

He said the House of Representatives is expected to favorably vote on the measure when it convenes.

Under the Smoke-Free Air Act of 2008, all restaurants will be smoke free. Gaming establishments and casinos, however, will be allowed to have smoking areas ....

Senate OKs no-smoking bill
House 'likely' to pass bill

On a 7-0 vote, the Senate passed yesterday a bill banning smoking in all workplaces and public places, a move welcomed by some 40 representatives of health and anti-smoking advocacy groups who waited patiently for almost two hours for the Senate session to start.

Many of the health advocacy groups' members and supporters led by the CNMI Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition and the Commonwealth Diabetes Coalition held or posted anti-smoking placards and posters on the Senate chamber's walls to get their message across.

Senate Vice Pres. Felix Mendiola, who was ill, and Sen. Luis Crisostimo (D-Saipan), who was off island, were excused from the session.

All the seven senators present voted yes on House Bill 16-47, HD2, SD1, CCS1 or the "Smoke-free Air Act of 2008."

The Senate earlier took up the bill but sent it to committee where some amendments were made, and a conference committee was called.

The House of Representatives has to adopt the same conference committee report on the bill and pass it, before the measure could reach the governor's desk for action.

The Fitial administration has yet to issue a statement whether to support or junk the bill if it passes the House.

House Speaker Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan), in an interview yesterday, said the lower house is "likely" to pass the bill during a session tentatively set for Tuesday.

Under House Bill 16-47, HD2, SD1, CCS1, smoking is prohibited in all enclosed areas and outdoor areas within 25 feet of any doorway entrance or exit to a government facility.

It also bans smoking in enclosed areas of public places.

Smoking is also prohibited in enclosed facilities within places of employment or within 25 feet of any person who is not smoking if the place or site of work is an outdoor area or area other than an enclosed area, without exception.

The smoking ban does not apply to bars, private residences, and retail tobacco stores, as well as hotel rooms and private rooms in nursing homes that are designated as smoking.

A person who smokes in a designated no-smoking area faces a penalty not exceeding $50 for a first violation, up to $100 for a second violation, up to $200 for a third and subsequent violation and the completion of a mandatory tobacco prevention and/or cessation course.

Besides members and supporters of the Drug and Substance Abuse Coalition and the Commonwealth Diabetes Coalition, also present at the Senate session were members and personnel of the Community Guidance Center, Ayuda Network, Diabetes Prevention and Control Program, Northern Marianas College Cooperative Research Education and Extension Services, Commonwealth Cancer Association, and the Comprehensive Cancer Control Program.

'Less patients at CHC'

In a news briefing, Public Health medical director Richard Brostrom said the passage of the bill banning smoking in workplaces and public areas is expected to significantly reduce the number of patients visiting the Commonwealth Health Center.

He said these types of patients include pediatric, and those with asthma, skin diseases, and heart attack.

Brostrom, as well as John Gonzales, who appeared at yesterday's Senate session, said they were thrilled by the Senate's support, and thanked newly confirmed Community and Cultural Affairs Secretary Melvin Faisao for making a strong statement for the legislation.

"This is a big step for public health, a process that started three years ago. We are grateful that it was finally passed," Brostrom said.

Brostrom said they are confident that this will not hurt business.

He said the most important thing is that there would be fewer people who will get cancer in the CNMI.

Cigarette smoking has been considered as the single most critical risk associated with the leading chronic diseases in the CNMI including cancer, heart disease and emphysema.

George J. Cruz, chairman of the CNMI Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, said if the legislation is enacted into law, the CNMI becomes the last of the many Pacific island nations "to finally pass a smoke-free law, and not just any law, but also a comprehensive law."

Northern Marianas moves to curb smoking
Radio New Zealand International, September 3, 2009

The medical director of public health in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas says the passing of the smoke free bill in the Senate ends three years of hard work.

The Senate, which passed the bill unanimously, bans smoking in all workplaces and public places.

But bars, private residences, retail tobacco stores, as well as hotels do not come under the legislation.

The CNMI’s medical director, Dr Richard Bostrom, says the bill has been a real priority, because of the high levels of smoking in the Northern Marianas.

“The youth rate of smoking, according to our last census, is the third highest in the world and we have a real problem with diabetes and high blood pressure, and when you mix tobacco, high blood pressure and diabetes, the outcome is never good for the patient.”
Dr Bostrom says support for the bill by the community has been incredible.

He says the legislation will go to the lower house next week which he says is expected to be passed.