Smoking bans at Honolulu parks and bus stops approved

Smoking bans at Honolulu parks and bus stops approved
Published: Jul. 10, 2013 at 10:43 AM HST|Updated: Jul. 11, 2013 at 12:40 AM HST
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Kawika Crowley
Kawika Crowley
Michael Zehner
Michael Zehner
Kahi Pacarro
Kahi Pacarro

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Honolulu City Council is sending a strong message against smoking. The nine members unanimously approved two measures that bans lighting up at all bus stops and city parks, beaches, athletic fields and facilities.

Non-smokers celebrated saying the bans are good because it helps eliminate second hand smoke and they also expect it will cut down on cigarette butts littering public areas.

Smokers felt like they had their rights snuffed out at city council today. Bill 25 bans smoking at all city beaches and parks.

That includes things like softball fields, tennis courts and pools. The only exception which was added today allows lighting up on municipal golf courses.

Bill 28 bans smoking within a 20 foot perimeter around all of the nearly 4,000 city bus stops. People can go outside that boundary to smoke but have to put the tobacco out before coming back in.

Some smokers thought the bills were a joke and mocked the process.

"I didn't see in here marijuana. So we can still smoke our marijuana at the beach park, but no cigarettes," testified one man who said he is direct descendant of Kamehameha I. Marijuana was already addressed in previous laws.

"My only questions is what's next cemeteries?" testified Kawika Crowley, Hawaii Bar Owners Association.

"How can people comply with this? It's making it so difficult you just won't have compliance," said Michael Zehner, Hawaii Smokers Alliance.

The Council heard testimony on both sides and then unanimously approved both bills which now go to the Mayor's office for final approval.

"If everything is in order yes I will sign them," said Kirk Caldwell, Honolulu Mayor.

It will be about $500,000 to pay for all the new signs at the public facilities and another $100,000 for signage at the bus stops. The cost is why you won't see them going up right away. Instead they'll be phased in over the years when a new sign is needed.

"I don't think anyone wants us to waste money putting up multiple signs when you can put up just one sign. So we'll roll it out over the next couple years," said Mayor Caldwell.

The fine starts at $100 and increases with each additional citation. Enforcement is expected to be an issue. The mayor says some people don't obey laws but he thinks the majority will comply on their own.

"I believe if we stop smoking in parks the vast majority of people will stop smoking in parks," said Mayor Caldwell.

"Self enforcement works. Empowering locals with this law will give them the ability to speak up for their right to breathe clean air," said Kahi Pacarro, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii.

"This bill is not about criminalizing smoking, it's about protecting the rights of the majority to enjoy smoke free and clean beaches," said Rosie Brady, who also testified before the council.

The smoking ban at parks and facilities starts January 1, 2014. The smoking ban at bus stops goes into effect 120 days after the mayor signs it.

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