Bar Owners Battle Smoking Ban

Lance Gomes
Lance Gomes

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Hawaii's smoking ban just passed its two-month mark.

But some bar owners are still upset about it and they're beginning to take action, especially since some say they're losing business.

"Well it would've been a little bit busier than it is now," said Lance Gomes, owner of Pigskins Sports Bar on Kapiolani Blvd. In Honolulu. It's 2 p.m., and he has two customers.

Gomes says he's lost about half of his business since November.

So he's ignoring the no smoking signs he put up when the ban went into effect. He's letting customers light up again.

"But what's the right of taking our amendments away by telling us what we can and cannot do? If people want to smoke, they smoke," said Gomes.

He's also one of many bar owners who are collecting signatures in support of a repeal or amendment to the smoking ban. The Hawaii Bar Owners Association started the petition drive last month and have gathered 4,000 signatures. Some bar owners believe they should be the ones to decide whether to make their establishments smoke free.

"All of us is small business owners, we have the right to make our own choices," said Gomes.

He would also like to put a sign outside his bar that says "enter at your own risk" and let people decide what to do.

"Anybody that comes into a bar has to be 21 years and older. They should know what to do with their life and everything else," said Gomes.

Even though the law went into effect in November, health officials aren't issuing citations or fines.

In this first year, they're just handing out warnings to business owners.

They're still discussing how to penalize people for breaking the law and how they'll enforce it.