Health dept. now can enforce smoking ban

It’s been four years to the day since Hawaii enacted a law that banned smoking from almost all workplaces, and still the law remains largely unenforced today.

In the months leading up to Nov. 16, 2006, the day the law took effect, businesses statewide scrambled to put up signs and move benches and ash-tray covered trash bins 20 feet away from any entrance or window.

The penalty for not complying: Hundreds of dollars in fines for business and property owners and the threat of a $25 fine and arrest for smokers caught in the act in areas deemed “prohibited.”

Sources tell PBN that in the last four years only a handful of smokers have been cited for smoking where the law says they can’t.

So enforcement has largely rested on patrons, and average Joe’s while some bars continue to brazenly allow smoking.

“The law, as written, is enforceable but the issue is that Hawaii has not been enforcing it,” said Deborah Zysman, executive director of the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii. “We knew it would take some time [with the rules]. But with that said, there is general widespread compliance from the community from the business sector, and that’s fantastic.”

Recently, Gov. Linda Lingle and the attorney general’s office approved the administrative rules that give the state Department of Health the authority it needs so it can go out and cite violators.

“We’re very pleased the rules have been signed, and we’re happy that compliance since 2006 has achieved very high levels,” said Julian Lipsher, coordinator for the state Department of Health’s Tobacco Prevention & Education Program. “[These rules] will help us enforce those situations where compliance needs to be better.”

source: Pacific Business News

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