Volunteers clear thousands of cigarette butts from Waikiki beach

Published: Jan. 31, 2013 at 8:31 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 31, 2013 at 11:58 PM HST
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Kahi Pacarro
Kahi Pacarro
Councilman Stanley Chang
Councilman Stanley Chang

WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - On any given day, thousands of visitors and residents pack the beaches of Waikiki, and along with them, are thousands of discarded cigarette butts.

Volunteers from Sustainable Coastlines and students from St. Louis School were out in full force Thursday morning cleaning up the mess many have left behind.

It's part of an effort to reduce the amount of debris on the beach after only two hours, the results were alarming.

"The kids picked up close to 10,000 cigarette butts today and many of them are saying, 'I'll never touch a cigarette, these are disgusting'," said Kahi Pacarro, executive director, Sustainable Coastlines.  "We don't have a problem with people smoking cigarettes.  It's their irresponsible behavior of flicking them after they are done smoking them."

The clean-up gives added ammunition to a proposed law that would ban smoking in seven city parks.  Councilman Stanley Chang introduced Bill 72 back in November and says public smoking is a practice that needs to be snuffed out.

"We also receive a lot of complaints from beachgoers about the second hand smoke and also about the dangers that the cigarette butts cause to infants who may not know better and may pick them up and put them in their mouth," Chang said.

Chang is hoping the bill gets Mayor Kirk Caldwell's signature sometime this year and wants to see it go into effect across the state, so beachgoers and volunteers won't be smoked out.

"We've been told, according to studies, the cleanliness of our beaches is one of the main things tourists are concerned about and smoking is already banned in most beaches in Japan and California," Chang said. "We are just trying to keep up with everybody else."

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