County may put brakes on secondhand smoke

LIHUE — It soon may be illegal for adults to smoke in their vehicle with minors.

The county’s public works and parks and recreation committee unanimously voted Wednesday to recommend passing a bill that would prohibit smoking in vehicles with children under the age of 18.

“It comes down to taking care of our youth and the rights of our children,” said Councilman Mason Chock. “This isn’t going to solve all of problems with tobacco-free areas, but this a step to protecting our youth.”

Councilman Gary Hooser said supporting Bill No. 2629 is common sense.

“This law will send a clear message that secondhand smoke is not OK,” he said.

Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura said the law has the potential to start discussions about smoking.

“It might not stop a parent from smoking, but I think it will move us more toward a culture of understanding a new mindset about the dangers of smoking,” she said.

But Councilmen Arryl Kaneshiro and KipuKai Kuali‘i, said the focus should be more on education and outreach.

“It should be less about us passing this law to create this behavior ,” Kuali‘i said.

“You don’t need to pass a law for education,” Kaneshiro said. “You don’t need a law to create a commercial for someone to come 0n TV and talk about how bad secondhand smoke is. You don’t need a law for people to go into schools to talk about how bad smoking is.”

Parenting laws should be avoided, Councilman Ross Kagawa said.

“If we want to stop smoking in the car with children, why stop with cars?” he said. “It should be in homes, it should be everywhere.”

Kagawa also raised enforcement concerns.

“It’s very hard to tell when a minor is 18 or not. And for the police to be expected to enforce this consistently, to me is difficult,” he said.

If police can’t enforce the talking on cell phone while driving law, how can they be expected to enforce a smoking ban, Kagawa added.

Other concerns raised during the meeting included private versus public space and rights of teenagers, who are able to voice their concerns about secondhand smoke to adults.

Bill No. 2629 will be voted on July 29 at the full council meeting.

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