Committee defers ban on smoking in parks

LIHU‘E — Kaua‘i County Council members on Wednesday put on hold for at least two weeks a bill proposing to outlaw smoking in county parks.

Councilman Dickie Chang’s bill passed first reading with flying colors May 23, when the only testimony came from two officials from Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i who provided councilmembers with some somber statistics tagged to smoking and secondhand smoking.

But when Bill 2437 was up for public hearing June 13, cigarette smokers had already sent smoking signs to their peers, causing testimony at the council chambers in Lihu‘e to reach a balance between health hazards and citizens’ rights.

However, the majority of those trying to stop the bill, including prominent Kaua‘i residents such a Open Spaces Commission member Tessie Kinnaman, seemed to agree on a compromise — a designated area for smokers.

On Wednesday the bill was up for discussion at the council’s Parks and Recreation Committee. This time, testimony tipped on the opposing side.

Valerie Saiki, Kaua‘i community coordinator for the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i, was firm on sticking to the ban.

Testifying for the third consecutive time, she was opposed to reaching a compromise giving smokers a designated area, saying it does not work.

But Saiki was the sole supporter of the bill among the audience members who testified at the council chambers.

On the other side of the scale, there were two people testifying against the bill, and they were OK with an area where smoking would be allowed.

Kinnaman would have been the third person to testify, but she briefly checked in at the podium and upon learning the bill would likely be deferred she decided to save her testimony for the following meeting.

Councilmembers opted to defer the bill to work out some amendments, including establishing a potential smoking area in county parks.

The next scheduled committee meeting at the council chambers is July 5.

The agenda for the meeting will be published at www.kauai.gov on June 28.

If the bill is included in the agenda, the public will be allowed to testify again on the issue.

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