Honolulu City Council Bill to Mandate Smoke-Free Motor Vehicles Advances

Sep 13, 2017

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The Honolulu City Council is advancing a bill to ban smoking in motor vehicles when a child is present.   The measure has strong City Council and community support.  HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports.

Bill 70 would designate motor vehicles as smoke-free zones for children.  Smoking is already banned in public facilities, parks and at bus stops.  State Department of HealthTobacco, Prevention and Education program manager, Lila Johnson, testified in favor of the measure before the full Honolulu City Council last week.

“Minors, especially infants and young children, are among the most vulnerable and least able to handle second-hand smoke.  When someone in the car smokes or vapes, the keiki inhale the toxic chemicals as well as nicotine which is the addictive and potent stimulant as well as poison.  Children breathe faster and have smaller long capacity so they take in more toxins with each breath than comparable to adults.”

The ban would cover tobacco and electronic smoking devices.  Scott Stensrude is a volunteer who works with youth in West O’ahu.

“These kids cannot speak for themselves so I’m here to speak on their behalf and say how disconcerting it is for me to smell third-hand smoke coming off of them, realizing that they have no ability, no choice in that decision.  And hopefully, passing this bill will be a reminder to parents to take the right step and not be smoking or vaping.”

Coalition for a Tobacco Free Hawai’i spokesperson, Jalen Murakami, says the measure is consistent with other protections.

“Smoke-free cars are similar to other public safety laws such as seat belts, using cell phones while driving or in crosswalks so passage of these types of laws are really important to help protect all families from second-hand smoke.

The measure was co- introduced by Council Chair Ron Menor and Public Health, Safety and Welfare Committee Chair Brandon Elefante who urged his fellow members to pass the measure.

“There are other neighbor island counties that already have laws in place with respect to prohibiting adults from smoking in their vehicles when a minor is present.  And I just ask my colleagues to join me in passing this out to make Honolulu a cleaner and safer city.”

The full Council passed Bill 70 on the second of three required approvals.  The measure now returns to the Public Health, Safety and Welfare Committee for public hearing September 26.  Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.