Big Island bans smoking
in workplace

HILO, Hawaii >> A smoking ban went into effect yesterday on the Big Island -- the last county in Hawaii to enact a smoke-free workplace law.

The Coalition for a Tobacco Free Hawaii said the law passed in July will help protect workers and patrons from the negative effects of tobacco smoke, such as lung cancer, heart disease and asthma attacks.

"The new smoke-free ordinance on the Big Island will have a huge impact on the health of our community," coalition director Deborah Zysman said. "Almost all workers will now be protected from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.

"Based on what has happened in other parts of the state and across the country, we anticipate only a positive impact on the businesses as they transition to a healthier workplace," Zysman said.

Enclosed and partially enclosed workplaces, all restaurants and numerous public places on the Big Island are now smoke-free.

Bars within restaurants have seven months before they are required to go smoke-free. After Sept. 1, they must either become smoke-free or create a physical separation from the restaurant, including a solid wall, separate ventilation system and an entrance at least 15 feet away from the restaurant entrance.

"We are thankful that the County Council and mayor (Harry Kim) saw this as a significant way to save lives," said Tracie Yoshimoto, East Hawaii unit coordinator of the Hawaii Island Tobacco-Free Partnership. "It also provides a supportive environment and good example for youth."

Separate stand-alone bars and nightclubs aren't covered by the law.


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