HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Just two days after a limited smoking ban became law, there is a push to expand the rules to all city beaches on Oahu. Honolulu's mayor supports the idea, but questions about enforcement remain.
Honolulu City Councilman Ikaika Anderson unsuccessfully pushed for an islandwide beach smoking ban last month. Now he is trying again by introducing a new bill that he hopes his colleagues will support.
"I understand wanting to go ahead with a pilot project, however, if the city is going to enact a policy to protect public health from the harmful effects of cigarette smoke, then we really need to protect public health at all of our city parks," explained Anderson.
The law that Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed on Monday prohibits smoking at seven city beach areas in Honolulu. The restrictions are already causing some heated debate.
"Cigarette smokers have been demonized in a sense," said smoker Jimmy Sativa. "We should kind of give them a break. There's only a few places they really can go and legitimately smoke and I think the beach should be one of them."
16.8% of adults in Hawaii, or 176,000 people, are smokers, according to the Hawaii State Department of Health. A statewide smoking law passed in 2006 bans smoking inside and within 20 feet of workplace entrances and businesses. Police have only issued four citations, but health officials said the low number was a sign of success. The number of reported complaints dropped significantly from 220 in 2006 to 39 last year.
"The department and its partners spent a great deal of effort right up front on education and awareness, so as a result there has not been the need for as much effort on enforcement," said Julian Lipsher of the Department of Health's Chronic Disease Management and Control Branch.
For the new law, Honolulu police will also focus on education first instead of enforcement.
"The police are going to be out there. I believe they will enforce. They're not going to catch everyone, but I think it's incumbent on us, too. If we're at the beach and we see someone smoking next to us, remind them that this is a beach where we no longer allow smoking," said Caldwell.
The mayor said he would sign Anderson's bill into law if the measure was approved by the council.
A flaw in the current law only allows it to be enforced at Ala Moana Beach since the other six properties are owned by the state. The mayor introduced legislation to fix that and Anderson's bill would correct it as well, but city council approval would likely take three months.
Here are the areas covered under the current ban:
•Duke Kahanamoku Beach Park
•Kapiolani Beach Park
•Kapiolani Park Beach Center
•Kuhio Beach Park
•Sandy Beach Park
•Ala Moana Regional Park (sandy beach areas only)