Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, October 19, 2001

Time for City Council to get on smoking ball

There is some muddled thinking going on at the City Council, where a bill to ban smoking in restaurants is stalled, apparently because of a fear tourists won't come here if they can't smoke over dinner.

Yes, we need tourists, particularly the big-spending visitors from Asia. But we don't need them so badly as to endanger the health of everyone who dines in restaurants or who works there.

It's an awful pricetag to put on the health of our population to say that bringing tourists here is more important than protecting people from the proven health risks of secondhand smoke.

Government already regulates smoking in a variety of places, including offices, supermarkets and elevators. It's an arena government has stepped into precisely because of health concerns. The argument that this is government barging into private lives does not hold up when a personal habit becomes a public one and infringes on people's right to clean air.

It's long overdue that this concern for workers and the public be extended to restaurants, where one's enjoyment of the food, ambiance and company shouldn't be ruined by smelly, noxious cigarette smoke. Surely smokers dying for a puff can wait until they leave the restaurant.

The council has argued about this controversial issue for years. It is wrongheaded that members have wasted so much time and dragged their feet over doing the right thing.