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Editorials

Friday, July 30, 2004



[ OUR OPINION ]


Ban flavored cigs
as lure for youths


THE ISSUE

State officials are furious about a brand of Camel cigarettes named "Kauai Kolada."


WHEN the state's master agreement with the tobacco industry was approved in late 1998, Joe Camel's death forced cigarette makers to look for new ways to market their products. R.J. Reynolds quickly developed a clever strategy of selling flavored cigarettes in "limited editions" in tin packages. Hawaii officials are infuriated that the company attached Kauai's name to one of these flavored Camels, but federal action is needed to ban the sleazy gimmick of flavored tobacco to attract young people.

The "Kauai Kolada" Camels are said to be flavored with "Hawaiian hints of pineapple and coconut." According to an RJR spokeswoman, single tins of such flavored brands have been "premium priced" at a national average of $6, about 50 percent more than regular cigarettes.

Brown & Williamson Tobacco has followed the marketing trend, recently promoting versions of Kool cigarettes with flavors called Caribbean Chill, Midnight Berry, Mocha Taboo and Mintrigue. "From beverages to chewing gums, this is a universal trend with broad interest," said company executive Ludo Cremers.

RJR must have been somewhat surprised by the angry reaction in Hawaii. After all, when tins of "Bayou Blast" Camels, with their "berry blend" flavor, came onto the market leading up to last year's Mardi Gras, Louisiana officials made no protest. Nor did the Greeks complain when the "Aegean Spice" tins arrived in shops.

"Using the name of Kauai and Hawaii images to market cigarettes to young people is disgusting," Governor Lingle fumed. "This offensive marketing campaign is offensive to the people of our state."

Lingle's consternation is understandable, but the more common complaint nationally is that the marketing of flavored tobacco violates the 1998 prohibition against directly or indirectly targeting youth in advertising, promotion or marketing of tobacco products. In May, the Massachusetts public health commissioner asked the nation's attorneys general to investigate the issue.

Last week, the Senate approved a bill that would provide a $12-billion buyout for tobacco farmers in exchange for the Food and Drug Administration gaining authority to regulate tobacco's manufacture, distribution, sale and advertising. That includes the power to ban cigarettes flavored with chocolate, strawberry and other flavors. The bill merits enactment this year.

RJR says Kauai Kolada, introduced in June, will be manufactured for only eight weeks as part of a summer marketing strategy. The tins should remain collectibles, not to be issued in a new edition.


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Kakaako will gain
from Ward project


THE ISSUE

Victoria Ward Centers has unveiled plans for an "urban village" in the district.


TRANSFORMATION of Kakaako from industrial zone to urban hub will advance when Victoria Ward Centers adds a residential component to its string of retail stores.

As attractive as the area has become in recent years, the new plans will increase building heights, a concern since the complex is so close to Honolulu's waterfront and parks. However, it appears that General Growth Properties, a Chicago real estate investment company, is mindful of the view plane, keeping structures to middle levels instead of reaching for the sky in height limits.

Victoria Ward's design will place 10 levels of apartments atop two floors of retail space and build seven stories of parking adjacent. These will stand in contrast with a luxury high-rise condominium going up nearby and other existing high-rises.

The idea for the 218 rental apartments is to mix residential units into an "urban village" where people won't have to leave the neighborhood to shop and seek entertainment. The centers' movie theaters, retail stores and restaurants deliver much of that, but an increase in residents might trigger the need for other services like schools, and government officials should be attentive to those as development continues.

The apartments will provide much-needed rental units in urban Honolulu where the recent real estate boom has tightened the market considerably. Living space in such a desirable location likely will be expensive, but rental developments have been so scarce on Oahu that any addition is welcome.

Victoria Ward's strategy should be a model for other redevelopment projects.

Having stores, diversions and recreational features within walking distance eliminates cars from crowded streets, reduces the need for parking spaces and can foster a greater sense of community. As a side benefit, recent studies have shown that people who live in such neighborhoods tend to be healthier, simply because they walk from place to place rather than enduring stressful drives from suburban homes to shopping malls and back. Retailers thrive in these environments, too, as foot traffic increases sales.

Even with the latest growth, much of Kakaako remains the territory of car-repair shops and other small enterprises. While improvements are desirable, room should be made to accommodate a diversity of businesses in the area. That would ensure that the district genuinely will be an urban village.

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Oahu Publications, Inc. publishes the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, MidWeek and military newspapers

David Black, Dan Case, Dennis Francis,
Larry Johnson, Duane Kurisu, Warren Luke,
Colbert Matsumoto, Jeffrey Watanabe,
directors

Dennis Francis, Publisher

Frank Bridgewater, Editor, 529-4791; fbridgewater@starbulletin.com
Michael Rovner, Assistant Editor, 529-4768; mrovner@starbulletin.com
Lucy Young-Oda, Assistant Editor, 529-4762; lyoungoda@starbulletin.com

Mary Poole, Editorial Page Editor, 529-4748; mpoole@starbulletin.com

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin (USPS 249460) is published daily by
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