Council defers decision on smoking ban proposal

The Kaua’i County Council yesterday held up action on a bill to ban smoking at restaurants after some councilmembers cited the need to consider personal rights and to possibly accommodate open-air restaurants.

The council referred the bill to the Oct. 17 meeting of the council’s finance and intergovernmental affairs committee.

Councilman Kaipo Asing said he is a “advocate of personal rights” and that the council should take a second look at recent public testimony about whether government should have the right to tell restaurant owners whether they can allow or not allow smoking.

Of equal concern, Asing indicated, was the right for people to dine at restaurants where smoking is allowed, if they choose to.

In supporting Asing’s motion to refer the bill back to the committee, Council chair Ron Kouchi said he had heard plenty of testimony on the bill and noted a key principle of democracy doesn’t allow the minority opinion in the issue to be imposed on the majority and that any amendments should be introduced at the committee level.

Other councilmembers supporting Asing’s motion were Daryl Kaneshiro, who said he had concerns about more people inquiring about allowing smoking at open-air restaurants, and Gary Hooser, who supported a bill approved by the council committee last week.

The bill eliminated a proposed exemption for small restaurants but includes an exemption allowing smoking at combination bar and restaurants during times when only the bar is open and when signs are posted.

Councilmembers Bryan Baptiste, Randal Valenciano and James Tokioka, who introduced the bill as chairman of the council committee, said the issue had been thoroughly discussed and debated and that they were ready to vote.

Staff Writer Lester Chang can be reached at mailto:lchang@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 225.

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