Smoking Ban Takes Effect In Hawaii

Inger Hjellmarnken
Inger Hjellmarnken
Gov. Linda Lingle
Gov. Linda Lingle

(KHNL) - Visitors to Hawaii come to enjoy the sun and the fresh air. From now on, they won't be able to smoke in many public areas.

"It's not a big problem, where I come from we have the same regulations," said Inger Hjellmarnken, a visitor from Norway.

The Hilton Hawaiian Village is one of many businesses that had to make changes to designated smoking areas. The new law bans smoking in enclosed or semi-enclosed spaces.

Health officials said they're not counting on police to go around issuing citations. Instead, they're hoping smokers will comply on their own.

"This law acknowledges that second-hand smoke is even more harmful than smoke directly inhaled through a cigarette," said Chiyomi Fukino, state heath director.

Gov. Linda Lingle, a former smoker, said she understands the change will be hard on those who like to light up.

"I was one of those militant kind of smokers, I just thought I had all the rights, they were my rights," Lingle said. "People kept trying to take away ashtrays and decide where you could smoke."

But state officials said the law is not intended to punish smokers.

"This is not about them," Lingle said. "This is about those around them who don't smoke and the impact on them from second hand smoke.

Critics have argued the ban could hurt the visitor industry because many tourists come from countries where smoking is popular. However, some visitors we spoke with say their home countries are adopting some of the same kinds of smoking regulations.

"Not everyone smokes," Hjellmarnken said. "Fewer and fewer are smokers. So that's the way it will be. I guess finally nobody will smoke."