POSTED: Friday, January 30, 2009

Bill aims to prohibit slim cigarettes

Hawaii could ban slim cigarettes because some lawmakers believe they are marketed toward teenage girls.

;  A bill pending in the Legislature targets thin cigarettes packaged in pink and teal-colored lipstick-size packs.

The measure specifically mentions Virginia Slims Superslims Lights, which are made by Philip Morris USA.

The cigarette company did not return an after-hours phone call seeking comment.

Jackie Young of the American Cancer Society says these kinds of cigarettes are meant to appeal to young girls who are attracted to their glamorous look.

But Young says looks can be deceiving because the cigarettes are filled with toxic chemicals.


Polluting vessel merits EPA fines

The ship formerly known as the SS Independence, which plied isle waters for years as part of American Hawaii Cruises, was the focus of $518,500 in toxic-chemical fines announced yesterday by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA fined Global Shipping LLC and Global Marketing Systems Inc. for allegedly exporting the vessel without cleaning out dangerous chemicals known as PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, typically used in cables and electrical equipment.

“;Companies need to ensure PCBs are removed from any ship being exported in order to protect public health and the environment from exposure to PCBs,”; said Jeff Scott, division director for waste programs in the EPA's Pacific Southwest region.

The ship, which once boasted President Truman as a passenger and which was renamed the Oceanic in 2006, was towed out of San Francisco Bay in February for disposal overseas, according to the EPA. Such disposal would be a violation of U.S. law.

Since the EPA complaint, Global Shipping submitted an application to the Maritime Commission to use the ship to house laborers in the Arabian Gulf. That use also falls under EPA regulation.

Global Shipping will pay $486,000 and Global Marketing will pay $32,500 to resolve the violations.


Bishop Museum hosts food drive

Bishop Museum is conducting a food drive from Thursday to Feb. 12, encouraging visitors to bring canned goods for the Hawaii Foodbank.

Visitors will receive a $1 discount off admission for each can, up to three cans. The Hawaii Foodbank says it especially needs canned meats and tuna, canned meals and soup.

On Feb. 8 the museum will host the Mary Kawena Pukui Performing Arts Festival, featuring storytelling and dance.

Kamaaina and military have a special admission rate that day of $3, or $2 with a canned food donation. Children 3 and under are free.


Volcano emissions posted online

The state Department of Health is posting online the sulfur dioxide readings for seven Big Island locations.

Kilauea volcano has been spewing exceptionally large volumes of sulfur dioxide since last spring. Scientists do not know when the output will drop.

The gas creates vog, or volcanic smog, when mixed with dust in the sunlight.

The vog has killed plants in Kau near the volcano. It can aggravate asthma and other respiratory conditions.

The Web site will show new readings every 15 minutes from air monitors in Pahala, Kona and five other places.

Laurence Lau, deputy director for environmental health, said the Web site will help people learn how sulfur dioxide might affect them and how they can protect their health.