Honolulu Council one step closer to banning smoking at city facilities

Honolulu Council one step closer to banning smoking at city facilities
Published: Jun. 25, 2013 at 9:34 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 25, 2013 at 10:41 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The County of Honolulu has already banned smoking at certain beaches and Tuesday the City Council Public Safety Committee unanimously approved a plan to outlaw smoking at all city facilities and bus stops.

The proposed smoking bans wouldn't just apply to beaches but the majority of all public facilities, including parks, swimming pools, tennis courts, athletic fields and golf courses.

For some golf and cigar smoking go hand in hand. So to learn it could be prohibited except for designated smoking areas is tough to hear.

"Cigar smoking, the next thing you know they're going to stop drinking beer on golf courses. That would be a terrible thing to do," said Eric Su, golfer and smoker.

The city already prohibited smoking at certain beaches on Oahu, but two new proposals would ban lighting up at bus stops. Another would ban it at all facilities maintained by the city including the six municipal golf courses.

"If the argument is to protect public health then we protect at all of our city parks, not just at a select few city parks."If we're really about protecting public health lets protect everybody's public health," said Ikaika Anderson, Honolulu City Councilmember.

There are no mulligans. Golfers think the city is out of bounds. The penalty for smoking wouldn't just be a drop and a stroke, but $100 fine for the first offense, $200 for the next and $500 for each thereafter within a year.

"We're not aiming to give people a bunch of tickets. Our aim is to do education and outreach and make sure that signage and things like that are in place so folks know about the policy," said Annie Hollis, Coalition for a Tobacco Free Hawaii. "For smokers we're not trying to criminalize anyone. Any smoker is free to just outside the boundaries of the park and have their cigarette and do whatever that's fine."

Enforcement could be tough. A cop isn't likely to patrol the fairways, but Council Anderson's office says perhaps course marshals could be deputized. So they wouldn't just enforce slow play, but actually cite people for smoking. It could be similar to program set up with the Honolulu Police Department where volunteers can cite handicap parking violators.

"I don't think it will work. I think it will reflect a bad image. I think behavioral change is a function of an individual's belief not a function of where the government has to step in and take a role in it," said Su.

The smoking ban bills now go to a vote before the full council on July 10. If the bills pass they will go to the Mayor Kirk Caldwell's office for final approval.

If passed and signed Bill 25 which would ban smoking at city facilities would take effect January 1, 2014. To read the bill click here.

Bill 28 which would ban smoking at bus stops would go into effect 120 days after it is approved by the Mayor. To read the bill click here.

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