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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, October 31, 2002

Smallest county to ban smoking

By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser Health Writer

Another Hawai'i county is preparing to ban smoking in public buildings: tiny Kalawao County, where most of the residents are elderly patients of the Hansen's disease settlement in Kalaupapa.

The state Health Department has jurisdiction over Kalawao County, which covers Kalaupapa peninsula on Moloka'i's rugged north shore. State Health Director Bruce Anderson signed the smoking limits on Oct. 4 but is providing a 90-day transition period before the policy takes effect.

About 100 to 150 people spend time in Kalaupapa on any given day, including about 40 Hansen's disease patients and individuals who work in the small-town setting that includes a post office, gas station, cafeteria and homes.

Anderson said he consulted the patients' council before making the policy and modeled it after O'ahu and Maui policies. He said the few patients who smoke will still be allowed to light up in their homes and at Kalaupapa's lone bar, Elaine's.

He reports "no complaints yet." Resident smokers could not be reached for comment.

A 1987 state law placed limits on smoking in public places such as government buildings but allowed smoking and nonsmoking areas to coexist. Since then, the counties have enacted stricter limits, including banning smoking inside restaurants in Honolulu and Maui County and on Kaua'i.

Technically, state law makes the health director the mayor of Kalawao, the state's smallest county, but Anderson said he issued the policy as health director.

"It should result in a minimal impact," he said.