No-smoking bans show awareness hits home
Hawaii's strict laws ban people from smoking in most public places. But nearly 80 percent of Hawaii residents choose to ban smoking in their homes, a 2003 federal study released yesterday said.
That is a big jump from a decade ago, when about half of Hawaii's homes allowed no smoking inside, according to the study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control.
Hawaii follows the national trend of more households opting to remain smoke-free. Many Hawaii residents say it is because they are more aware of secondhand smoke's dangers -- especially for young children -- and because some smokers, too, simply hate the smell.
Smoking is forbidden in about four out of five households in Hawaii, which is slightly higher than the national average, according to a federal study released yesterday.
The change has been dramatic during the last decade in Hawaii -- a little more than half of households in 1993 said there was no smoking in homes; that number jumped to nearly 80 percent in 2003, the study found.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which conducted the survey in 2003, said it was the first study to offer a state-by-state look at the prevalence of smoking in American homes. It found that nearly three out of four homes nationally did not allow smoking inside.
Many Hawaii residents say they do not smoke in their homes to protect others -- especially young children -- from secondhand smoke, to be more respectful or simply because they do not like the smell that lingers.
"My wife doesn't smoke and I have two young kids," said Corey Sumida, 37, a longtime smoker who goes into the yard of his Kaneohe home after closing the front door to ensure the smoke does not drift inside. "I don't want to subject them to the secondhand smoke."
Sumida said he picked up the habit from his parents, who still smoke in their home. He echoed the CDC's reasoning that increases in smoke-free homes were in part driven by more information in the last 15 years that warns of the dangers of secondhand smoke.
Before he had children and when his wife was not home, he would sometimes sneak a smoke inside. His wife never liked that, he said.
Dane Runsewee, 22, never smokes in other people's homes or his own. He goes out onto the lanai of his Moiliili condo.
"Your house is supposed to be a special place, and to smoke in it is kind of disrespectful," Runsewee said. "I can't stand the smell of cigarette smoke."
Kentucky ranked last nationally with a little more than half of households sending smokers outside (or at least to the garage).
But even in Kentucky, smokers found fewer places to light up. Ten years earlier, only a quarter of the state's households barred smoking.
"That really says that people are starting to understand the hazards of secondhand smoke," said Dr. Corinne Husten, co-author of the study and chief of the epidemiology branch of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health.
Utah led the nation, with people in nearly nine out of 10 homes saying smoking was never allowed.
The report is based on a national survey done mostly by telephone every two years. For a household to be included in the results, everyone 15 and older had to respond, and they all had to agree on the smoking rules.
The survey covered 127,000 U.S. households in 2003, the most recent year for which such data was available. The study looked at 900 to 7,000 homes in each state. Similar numbers were surveyed in previous years.
Participants were asked whether smoking was allowed everywhere in the home, only in some places or not at all.
Cecilia Suzuki, 64, only smokes in the kitchen of her Waipahu home. She lives there with her son, brother and 6-year-old grandson. She wants to keep the smoke away from him, and he rarely ventures into the kitchen, she said.
Hawaii has one of the strictest smoking bans in the nation, enacted in November, which makes it illegal for people to smoke in public places -- such as restaurants, bowling alleys and malls -- and no less than 20 feet away from doorways and windows.
The Associated Press and Star-Bulletin reporter Laurie Au contributed to this report.