Big Isle considers
wider smoking ban
A proposal would extend the restrictions
to bars and outdoor restaurant areas
Thursday, May 8, 2003
» The smoking ban in Maui County does not include many workplaces. A story on Page A4 Tuesday incorrectly stated that workplaces were included.
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HILO >> Hawaii County would have the most comprehensive ban in the state on smoking in public places under a bill to be discussed today in the Council's Human Services and Economic Development Committee.
The county already has a limited ban. The bill to be considered at 1:30 p.m. would extend the ban to nearly all public places, including bars and outdoor restaurant areas, which are exempted by some other counties.
It's a bad idea, said Michele Van Hessen, president of the Hawaii Restaurant Association, in two letters to the Council.
Van Hessen said the ban would discourage Asian tourists, who are perceived as heavy smokers, from patronizing those places and would be especially hard on sports bars, where smoking is common.
"You're going to close down all the sports bars," she said.
Tom Thomas, a co-owner of Cronies Sport Bar & Grill in downtown Hilo, disagreed. He voluntarily converted his bar and restaurant to nonsmoking on Thursday.
"We got a lot of favorable comments," said Cronies general manager Klay Burchett. "A few were pretty disappointed. They have to come in (anyway)," he said. "They don't come down here to smoke. They come here to enjoy the ambience."
If they still want to smoke, they can go outside, then come back in, he said.
Regarding Asian tourists, Beth Kuch, of the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Hawaii, said the state of California bans smoking in public places, and that has not slowed Asian tourists.
Japanese tourists seem to accept that America is a different country with different rules, she said. The anti-smoking movement is growing in Japan, and smoking is even banned on the street in some parts of Tokyo, she said.
In Hawaii, all four counties now ban smoking in enclosed public places, Kuch said.
Oahu, Maui and Kauai ban smoking in workplaces, although Kauai exempts businesses with any shift that has fewer than five employees. Hawaii County would join the workplace ban.
On Oahu, bars attached to restaurants but separated by a wall or 10 feet of space are now exempt from the ban. After June 30, only outdoor areas of restaurants or stand-alone bars will be exempt.
On Maui, smoking is permitted only in stand-alone bars. On Kauai, smoking is permitted in stand-alone bars and establishments that are part-time bars, part-time restaurants, but only during the time they are functioning as bars.
The Big Island would ban smoking in all bars. Violations would bring a fine of $25 to $50 for the smoker and $100 for the first offense by a business or facility owner or manager.
County of Hawaii