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News Summary

Panel lets smoking ban stay in place

Publication Date: 2007-02-23
  • Author:Alexandre Da Silva
  • Publication:Honolulu Star-Bulletin

Despite tales of empty bars and upset regulars, opponents of Hawaii's no-smoking law failed to persuade lawmakers last night to pass a bill that would have created a special liquor license allowing people to light up.

Those behind the permit proposed under House Bill 1800, which was deferred by a House Judiciary Committee, argued it would have helped bars, restaurants and clubs that have struggled since the strict smoking ban began three months ago...

But for more than two hours, legislators also heard from residents who praised the clean air as well as representatives of organizations who repeatedly warned about tobacco's health risks and asked that the 3-month-old law be given more time to work.
They cited numerous studies done in states with similar controls that showed anti-smoking laws did not put bars and clubs that rely on alcohol sales out of business. Eventually, proponents claimed, the law helped smokers quit and brought businesses a new wave of customers who used to stay away from hazy bars.

"This law is one of the best public measures to ever be passed in Hawaii," said Debbie Odo, director of tobacco control with the American Lung Association in Hawaii. "Not only will this law save lives, it will save lives and will have a positive impact on our economy."