Wednesday, February 24, 1999

Star-Bulletin, Hawaii News 8 Poll

Residents split
on fireworks

Poll shows little change
since 1994, except now more
men oppose a ban

Fireworks Straw Poll Results

By Mike Yuen


The latest Honolulu Star-Bulletin/NBC Hawaii News 8 Poll reveals that the isle population is just about evenly split on the use of fireworks, an incendiary issue in the islands for years.

And isle attitudes on the matter have not changed significantly since 1994, when isle residents were last questioned on the matter.


Forty-eight percent of the respondents to the latest statewide survey stated that they support a state Senate proposal for a total ban of fireworks beginning Jan. 2, 2000, except when used for religious or cultural activities.

Forty-seven percent said no, while 5 percent said they weren't sure.

Mason-Dixon Political/Media Research Inc. of Columbia, Md., interviewed 428 registered voters by telephone for the three-day survey, which began Feb. 11. The margin of error was plus or minus 5 percentage points.

The public sentiment now is not much different from what it was in 1994. In late January of that year, the Star-Bulletin Poll revealed that 48 percent favored a statewide ban on fireworks, 51 percent didn't and 1 percent wasn't sure.

Of those who favored a ban, 70 percent said fireworks should be allowed for religious or cultural purposes, while only 28 percent said no.

But there have been some intriguing shifts when public opinion on fireworks is broken down demographically.

Now, more men are opposed to a fireworks ban, while women, just about evenly split five years ago, are now slightly more in favor of a ban.

In 1994, men were opposed to a ban, 53.2 percent to 46.3 percent; now, 58.2 percent of men balk at a prohibition, while 40.9 percent don't.

For women, 50.9 percent now favor a ban; 48.2 percent don't. In 1994, women opposed the ban by a scant 0.05 percent.

In terms of ethnicity, residents of Filipino and Hawaiian ancestry remain the staunchest foes of a fireworks ban, while Japanese-Americans are still the ethnic group most in favor of a prohibition. A slightly larger majority of Caucasians opposes a ban.

The latest poll also found that the majority of islanders -- 53 percent to 46 percent -- concurred with the Senate's position that the upcoming millennium celebrations should be excluded from a fireworks ban.

There was also overwhelming support -- 59 percent to 31 percent -- that the counties should be the governing entity to regulate the use of fireworks. That's more reflective of the position of the House. But the Senate's bill, expected to come before the full chamber next week, would allow counties to opt out of a statewide prohibition.

The measure moving in the House would allow counties to use a permit system to limit the amount of fireworks a person can legally purchase, but it would not impose an outright ban.

Lawmakers interviewed by the Star-Bulletin said they were not surprised that the state is just about evenly split on whether a fireworks ban should be imposed.

Vast majority will celebrate
New Year's Eve

It should come as no surprise. The vast majority of isle residents will be celebrating New Year's Eve 1999, which will be ushering in the millennium.

Eighty-two percent said they will be taking part in New Year's Eve festivities, according to the latest Honolulu Star-Bulletin/NBC Hawaii News 8 Poll. Only 18 percent said they won't.

Ninety-two percent said they will be celebrating in the islands, 7 percent will be doing it outside of Hawaii and 1 percent wasn't sure where they would be.

The polling was done by Mason-Dixon Political/Media Research Inc. of Columbia, Md., which interviewed 428 registered voters by telephone during the three-day period that ended Feb. 13. The margin of error was plus or minus 5 percentage points.

"Fireworks and gambling are similar," said Senate Judiciary Co-Chairman Avery Chumbley (D, Kihei). "They're just about a 50-50 split on both issues in the community."

Senate Intergovernmental Affairs Chairman Cal Kawamoto (D, Waipahu), whose panel, along with Judiciary, moved the Senate's fireworks bill to the full chamber, acknowledged that no matter what position the Senate takes, it will leave many people upset.

"It's hard to break that (fireworks) tradition," Kawamoto said.

Since "we're a bigger community," Kawamoto added, it is important that complaints about excessive use of fireworks causing health and safety concerns be heeded. "We should not allow the thrill of fireworks to get out of hand," he said.

House Judiciary Chairman Paul Oshiro (D, Ewa Beach) said: "We understand those who want a ban, a total ban, and those who enjoy the use of fireworks. That's why the House is trying to strike a balance."

Having counties decide the extent to which fireworks use would be limited means officials most familiar with the situation in their area can make the decision on how to regulate fireworks, Oshiro said.

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