Thank You for Not Smoking

Hawaii passes a new smoke-free law

By: Marty Wentzel

When visitors light up in Hawaii, they now have to pay closer attention to where they’re doing it as a result of the new Smoke-Free Hawaii law, which took effect on Nov. 16.

While travel agents should familiarize themselves with the new legislation, it shouldn’t affect the destination’s visitor counts in the long run, according to Hawaii tourism liaison Marsha Wienert.

“Many countries and states are implementing similar laws,” said Wienert. “I think people are understanding that a clean environment is a healthy environment.”

The first place arriving Oahu visitors will notice a change is Honolulu International Airport, where enclosed smoking rooms have been dismantled. Clients should wait to smoke until they’re in the open air by the curb.

Since hotels now ban smoking in 80 percent of their rooms, travel agents should find out if their clients smoke, then book their accommodations accordingly, said Wienert.

At the Hawaii Convention Center in Waikiki, officials have been working closely with the state Department of Health to establish accessible designated smoking areas on each floor of the building. Center officials have been assuring clients that delegates who do smoke will not be inconvenienced.

“The center’s new smoking areas are approximately the same size as the previous areas,” said Hawaii Convention Center general manager Joe Davis. “I don’t expect we’ll see a change in business due to the enactment of the Smoke-Free Hawaii law.”

Throughout their Hawaii vacation, clients must refrain from smoking within 20 feet of doorways, windows and ventilation intakes. Puffing is prohibited at any venue where food or drinks are served, including restaurants, bars, lobbies, covered walkways and luaus, and it’s not allowed in enclosed or partially enclosed sports facilities, outdoor arenas, stadiums and amphitheaters.

Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau vice president of marketing Jay Talwar stressed that Hawaii’s legislature passed the law in response to health concerns for residents and visitors alike.

“Many hoteliers across the country have already enacted non-smoking policies, and this is an extension of that sentiment,” Talwar said. “Hawaii is a beautiful, pristine environment which is primarily an outdoor experience. It’s a place that both smokers and non-smokers will be able to continue to enjoy in the future.”


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