Fireworks ban debate fires up again - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Fireworks ban debate fires up again

Jean Evans Jean Evans
Kenneth Soares Kenneth Soares
Eugene Duarte Eugene Duarte

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Should they be completely banned? Two days after New Year's, the debate over fireworks is at fever pitch.

Many fires over the past few days have many debating the complete ban of fireworks.

While some see it as a cultural necessity, others say it's a nuisance and a hazard.

To ban or not to ban? That's the lingering question after every New Year's celebration in Hawaii.

Some against it say we shouldn't mess with tradition, while others tells us it poses a huge health risk and it's just too noisy.

There are about 175,000 people in Hawaii with some type of lung disease, which is 13 percent of the population. Combine that with having the second highest rate of childhood asthma and you have a strong case against fireworks.

"On New Year's Eve, it's very difficult for many of those people to breathe and some of them end up in emergency rooms and it's just a really, really difficult time," American Lung Association of Hawaii executive director Jean Evans said.

Others say a ban will not have a big effect.

"If they totally ban it, there's still going to be fireworks, you're not going to stop them, it's just there won't be any revenue from the state and enforcement and people will still have them," Consumer Fireworks Safety Association's Dick Botti said.

But people like Kenneth Soares say it's a long-standing tradition that shouldn't be extinguished. He says superstition also comes into play when talking about fireworks.

"Get rid of old spirits and welcome the new spirits, I'm pretty sure, I dunno about the generation now, but my generation and the ones before that, that's what we believe in," the Waimalu resident said.

Nanakuli's Eugene Duarte agrees.

"I'm against it because, it's part of our tradition and culture, so we practice that every year and we've been doing it for so long and I enjoy it," he said.

For about 25 years, the debate has raged on. Some feel counties should be given the option to ban it, while some feel a statewide ban needs to be in place or just on Oahu, where the problem seems to be the worse.

"People will adapt to anything in this world once it's put down, people will get used to it," Soares said. "I feel sorry for the people who got asthma and things like that, especially hospitals."

Both the Honolulu Police and Fire Departments are pushing once again for a statewide ban, or at least on Oahu. A few legislators have already said they'll introduce a bill to ban fireworks when they meet in a few weeks.

"It's quite obvious that there's a behavior pattern here where there's extreme misuse of dangerous explosives and they're also taking them apart and making improvised explosive devices and that's just a silly, ridiculous risk to take," Honolulu Fire Department captain Terry Seelig said.

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