Lawmakers Snuff Out Bill That Would Allow Smoking In Bars

Lance Gomes
Lance Gomes
Kavika Crowley
Kavika Crowley
Deborah Zysman
Deborah Zysman

(KHNL) - A number of local bar owners and patrons rallied tonight to get law makers to re-think the smoking ban. They wanted a new liquor license created that would allow bar owners to decide whether they want to allow smoking or not. But, after hours of testimony, the House Judiciary Committee decided against voting on the measure.

That basically means it will not survive this year's legislative session.

At Pigskins they rack up the pool balls and enjoy a friendly game. And that's not all they are enjoying at Pigskins. Smokers here ignore the state law and light up.

Owner Lance Gomes explains, "I lost anywhere from 30-50 percent of my monthly gross since November 16th. I've been comparing notes last year to this year that's how we came up with our figures."

Nearly one hundred bar owners have formed an alliance to fight the smoking ban. Gomes adds, "We average on a good Friday night average, 1000 dollars now not even hitting 4-5 hundred on the weekends.

Bar owners and patrons testify before lawmakers. Kavika Crowley tells lawmakers, "In closing, it's a matter of freedom of choice, let the bar owners decide, let the patron decide let the worker decide, let the free market decide."

But what about the threat of second hand smoke for the employees? Deborah Zysman with the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Hawaii says, "Unfortunately it would dismantle the smoke-free workplace law. It would allow a restaurant, bar, club to allow smoking and that would mean we'd have workers exposed at their workplace.

In the end lawmakers sided with employee health over bar-owner profits.