A proposal to ban smoking on Oahu's most popular beach parks is moving forward.
A Honolulu city council committee voted 4-1 Tuesday to advance a measure that would ban lighting up at Kapiolani Park and its surrounding areas, Kuhio Beach Park, Duke Kahanamoku Beach Park, the beach portion of Ala Moana Park and Sandy Beach Park.
The full council will hold a public hearing on the measure on Dec. 5, The Star Advertiser reported (http://bit.ly/RjiBWD).
Bill sponsor Councilman Stanley Chang said he introduced the measure in response to complaints from constituents about cigarette litter and secondhand smoke.
"Cigarette butt litter is by far the No. 1 source of litter on our streets, our beaches, in our parks, our public places,"?he said.
Councilman Tom Berg cast the lone no vote.
Resident Lancelot Haili Lincoln said a beach smoking ban would violate the civil and human rights of smokers.
"These beaches are for everybody, not just nonsmokers,"?Lincoln said.
But longtime Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve manager Alan Hong told committee members that from 2003, when a smoking ban was instituted at the bay, until his retirement last year, he received only two complaints from tourists unhappy with the rule. During the same period, he received numerous compliments from those who appreciate a smoke-free beach, he said.
Approving the ban "would send a strong signal and help enhance Hawaii's appeal as a tourist destination,"?Chang said.
Police Maj. Ron Bode, who heads the Waikiki patrol district, said the department?is taking no position on the bill at this time. Police officers would enforce the law and issue citations if such a ban were in place.
Lila Johnson, program manager of the state Health Department's Tobacco Prevention and Education Program, said the National Poison Control Center receives 15 to 30 calls a year from Hawaii residents about children ingesting cigarettes or cigarette butts.
Members Carol Fukunaga and Breene Harimoto, who joined Chang and Garcia in advancing the measure Tuesday, said they would support an island-wide ban. The committee has five members.
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