Smokers Speak Up About Smoking Ban Anniversary

Chris Anderson
Chris Anderson

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- A year ago Friday, Hawaii passed a smoke-free law. Smoking is now banned in all enclosed and partially enclosed places, including restaurants, bars, and malls. Non-smokers clearly like the ban, but even now, many smokers disagree with it.

Thursday night we talked to non-smokers around Honolulu who were very happy they could enjoy a night out without having to deal with second-hand smoke. Friday, smokers speak up, and surprisingly, it's not with one voice.

For years, O'Toole's Irish Pub has been a popular spot for locals to drink and smoke. Since the smoke-free law was passed a year ago, smokers still come here, but they can't light up inside.

"I'm not really with the government stepping in and saying that people can't smoke," said Chris Anderson, an occasional smoker.

He said the government is overstepping its authorities.

"If the business owner decides that people can smoke in their establishment, then it should be allowed," said Anderson. "And if people don't like the smoke, I'm sure there would be another business owner that won't allow smoke in their establishment."

But not all smokers are on the same page.

"I don't think it's a problem," said Chris Fleck, a patron at O'Toole's. "I'm a smoker myself and I have no problems going outside."

Fleck is from New York, so he's used to dealing with smoking bans, even at bars.

"Without a doubt, alcohol and cigarettes go hand in hand," he said. "They always have, but to me, it's not a problem. Maybe for couple of the old timers back in the day, they were so used to cigarettes in bars. For me, I think with my generation, it shouldn't be problem at all."

He acknowledges the law may be unfair to smokers, but says it's about being respectful to non-smokers. Still others said the law should be overturned, so businesses can make decisions for themselves.

The Department of Health said it has issued no fines to establishments for violating the no smoking law. The first year was always intended as an educational year, but starting now, they're going to step up enforcement efforts.