Smoking ban in bars ends good first year
Hawaii completed the first full year of a ban on smoking in bars.
A smoking ban in bars and other public places that went into effect a year ago appears to have succeeded in protecting non-smokers from secondhand smoke. Similar bans have been effective in 13 other states and in parts of Europe, so the effectiveness is not surprising and the ban should continue.
A few bars have flouted the law and have gotten away with it; only one citation has been issued for a person illegally smoking in a bar. Sandy Miano, the compliant owner of two Waikiki bars, said business has dropped by 30 percent. Jolyn Tenn, co-chairwoman of the Hawaii Smokers Alliance, said 16 bars have closed during the past year.
However, business should pick up as the number of smokers dwindle and those unable to end their addiction become accustomed to the new rules. Julian Lipsher, the state's tobacco control coordinator, says the number of calls to the 1-800 Quit Now line has doubled to about 300 calls a month, and complaints have fallen from 120 last November to four this month.
That trend should continue as smoking becomes more expensive. The state tax on a pack of cigarettes, now $1.40, will rise to $1.80 in January, $2 in 2008 and $2.20 in 2009, joining states that now tax cigarettes at more than $2 a pack. Studies show that a 10 percent price increase brings a decline in smokers from 3 percent to 7 percent.
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