Smoking ban prompts fine for first time
The plaintiff refused a request from bar owners to challenge the law
The first, and so far only, person cited for violating the state's ban on smoking in bars and restaurants pleaded guilty yesterday in Honolulu District Court and was fined $25.
Honolulu police said an officer spotted the woman smoking in a downtown Honolulu bar March 14 and issued her the citation.
The state Health Department, which is charged with enforcing the ban, said it is not yet equipped to do that kind of enforcement and is working on an agreement with the county police departments.
Floreen Mayeda did not want her case hijacked by opponents of the state smoking ban. So she pleaded guilty yesterday in Honolulu District Court and paid a $25 fine for smoking in Club Ke Kai's Lounge on March 14.
Mayeda, 71, is the first person cited for violating the law, in effect since Nov. 16.
The outcome was disappointing to Jolyn Tenn, co-chairwoman of Hawaii Smokers Alliance and associate member of the Hawaii Bar Owners Association. Tenn said she contacted Mayeda about using her case to test the law.
"Fighting this ticket would've been the ticket," she said.
But Ke Kai's manager, Kalei Lee, said Mayeda "didn't want to pursue it. I don't blame her."
Tenn said the group intends to mount a new challenge after a state judge dismissed the bar owners' lawsuit last month seeking to prevent the state from enforcing the ban on smoking in public places.
Lee said Mayeda stepped into the downtown bar while smoking a cigarette to make a telephone call.
An officer spotted Mayeda and issued her the citation, said Michelle Yu, Honolulu Police Department spokeswoman.
"This shows the police will issue citations and the courts will issue fines," said Julian Lipsher, program coordinator of the state Department of Health's Tobacco Prevention and Education Program.
Bar owners said the new law hurts their business, and some have been tacitly or overtly encouraging customers to continue smoking in their establishments.
"We warn them at the beginning if they're willing to take the fine, that's fine," said Lee.
The Health Department, which has jurisdiction over enforcement, is working on an agreement with the county police departments similar to the one to enforce a ban on cigarette sales to minors.
Health spokeswoman Janice Okubo said a draft of administrative rules is under review by the state attorney general. Once approved, it will have to undergo public hearings.*
In the meantime, Okubo said, the department has issued more than 100 warning letters to businesses.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
» The state Department of Health has submitted draft administrative rules on the state's smoking ban to the state attorney general for review. The department is also working on an agreement with the county police departments for enforcing the ban. A Page A6 article yesterday suggested that the rules and the agreement are the same.