Smoking ban law meeting set

Restaurant owners have been invited to attend a gathering at the Terrace Restaurant at Kaua’i Lagoons this Friday to better understand a new law that bans smoking in most restaurants.

It is the first time in recent history that organizations and a county agency – Kaua’i County Department of Liquor Control – have held an additional meeting to explain a law before it went into effect. It goes into effect Jan. 1.

The law will be discussed between 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. at a restaurant which is co-owned by Kaua’i County Councilman James Tokioka.

Tokioka drew heaping praise from the community for initially introducing a bill proposing a smoking ban for most large restaurants, but excluding a handful of small restaurants employing family members.

Following months of debate and discussion by the public, the council in October approved a bill that bans smoking in most restaurants, but allows smoking in combination bar and restaurants and “open air areas” located away from main dining areas of restaurants.

Anti-smoking groups and people sought a total ban to make Kaua’i County’s legislation the strongest in Hawai’i.

Instead, they said, it became the weakest because of the exceptions, an assessment echoed by some outgoing council members, including veteran councilman Randal Valenciano.

Anti-smoking advocates, citing studies that showed dangerous effects from smoking and second-hand exposure, including cancer, promised to lobby Mayor Maryanne Kusaka to veto the council legislation.

However, Kusaka signed the measure into the law before she left office earlier this month.

At the Dec. 13 briefing, restaurant owners will have a chance to:

– learn what the new law requires, hear from other restaurant owners who have successfully gone smoke-free and ask more questions.

Scheduled “presenters” are Clifford Chang, director of the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Hawaii, Charles Roessler, coordinator of the Tobacco-Free Kaua’i, Eric Honma, of the Kaua’i County Department of Liquor Control and managers and owners of restaurants that are currently “smoke-free.”

The meeting is sponsored by the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Hawai’i, Tobacco-Free Kaua’i and the Hawai’i Tobacco Prevention and Control Trust Fund.

Kaua’i residents can obtain more information about the meeting by logging onto Web site www.tobaccofreehawaii.org or by calling the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Hawai’i at 1-888-227-7107 ext. 117.

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