Smoking ban in public is a victory for everyone's health
A comprehensive statewide ban on smoking in public places will go into effect on Nov. 16.
SMOKING bans that have been enforced by Hawaii's counties for more than three years will be broadened under a statewide law beginning in two weeks
. The new law, enacted by this year's Legislature, has enormous public support and medical justification.
The law, similar to comprehensive bans in 13 other states, takes effect on Nov. 16, the day of the Great American Smokeout. Smoking will be prohibited in all bars and restaurants, including outdoor areas, throughout airports, other areas open to the public, such as stores, shopping malls and sports arenas, and within 20 feet of entrances, windows and ventilation intakes.
Smokers have complained over the years that the prohibitions infringe on their rights, arguing that smoking sections were adequate in protecting nonsmokers. Early studies asserting the danger of secondhand smoke were flawed, but more recent research has proven that it indeed places nonsmokers at considerable risk.
Nearly 80,000 people in Western Europe are estimated to die each year from passive smoke. Scientists have found that 85 percent of the smoke from a cigarette is emitted between puffs and is more toxic than what the smoker inhales through filters.
Secondhand smoke is believed to cause 3,000 cases a year of lung cancer in American smokers. It also causes stroke, heart disease and respiratory disease.
Hawaii's counties already forbid smoking in restaurants by ordinances enacted in 2002 and 2003, and the state law will extend the ban to bars. Smoking will be disallowed in outdoor seating at such establishments as Starbucks and the Row Bar at Restaurant Row, which is entirely outside.
Some bar owners have expressed concern that they will lose customers. Bill Comerford, president of E&J Lounge Operating Co., which runs Kelley O'Neil's in Waikiki and O'Toole's Irish Pub downtown, told the Star-Bulletin's Nina Wu that he expects to lose 60 percent of the regular customer base. Such concerns have proven to be unfounded elsewhere. In Ireland, where a similar ban took effect in pubs two years ago, revenues have increased.
Others are worried that visitors from Japan expect to be allowed to smoke in bars and restaurants and will be discouraged from vacationing in Hawaii. However, many public facilities in Japan are smoke-free, and the percent of Japanese adults who smoke has dropped from 49.4 percent to 29.2 percent in the past 40 years.
American adults who smoke have fallen to 20.9 percent. Hawaii smokers were provided an additional reason to quit on Sept. 30, when another law began increasing Hawaii's $1.40-a-pack cigarette tax by 20 cents a year over the next six years, bringing it to $2.60 a pack.