WAILUKU, Hawaii – The Maui County Council today voted 8-0 to pass Bill 24, prohibiting tobacco use and products in county parks and facilities, including beaches, Councilmember Don S. Guzman announced today. The Bill will take effect immediately once the Mayor has signed it. Mayor Alan Arakawa has indicated he supports such legislation.
“It is good fortune that on Earth Day, Maui County has taken a step forward in protecting our beautiful coastal environment and promoting the health of our residents and visitors,” Councilmember Guzman said.
Guzman said he introduced the bill in response to the countywide cleanup effort called “Butts Off Our Beaches.” Students and volunteer organizations combed Maui County’s shorelines, collecting more than 18,000 cigarette butts over the past few months. Violation results have yet to be detailed – but could yield fines up to $500.
Gina Marzo, a student at Maui Preparatory Academy, who helped lead the effort, called the legislation’s passage a “monumental movement of power and passion.”
Under the bill, persons engaged in smoking or the use of tobacco products in county parks are subject to a fine of up to $500.
“My hope is that this law will be largely self-regulated,” Councilmember Guzman said. “Community coalitions, such as the Maui District Student Council Organization, Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii, Pacific Whale Foundation and the Surfrider Foundation have done an outstanding job galvanizing the community and raising awareness.”
At the council meeting, Sonya Niess, Maui coordinator for Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii, stressed that strong community partnerships are in place to ensure the success of this bill. Dean Otsuki, a volunteer with Beach Environmental Awareness Campaign Hawaii, testified that public-service announcements, signage and posters will be put in place to educate the public, at no cost to the county.
Maui County is the third county in Hawaii to enact a tobacco-free parks ordinance. Hawaii County adopted a tobacco-free parks and beaches ordinance in 2009, and the City and County of Honolulu implemented a comprehensive smoke-free policy for all city-owned and -operated parks, beaches and recreation centers.