City council considers banning smoking in vehicles in presence of minors

Driving while smoking can’t get you pulled over on Oahu yet.

For years, Hawaii island and Kauai have had laws on the books that make it illegal to smoke in your car in the presence of a minor.*

If Bill 70 becomes law, the same would apply on Oahu. You would not be able to smoke in a motor vehicle when a person under 18 years of age is present.

Honolulu city councilman Brandon Elefante, who introduced the bill with council chair Ron Menor Wednesday, says it’s time for Oahu to catch up.

“It’s about looking out for kids in a way that we protect them,” he said. “Secondhand smoke is very impactful in a negative way to a minor. This I feel is good public health policy, especially with the City and County now having no smoking on bus stops or in our city parks. One thing that was controversial years ago was in restaurants, so this is I feel something that we can look at and discuss to become a healthier and more clean city.”

Menor says the bill “would put Honolulu at the forefront, not just locally, but also nationally, of the effort to reduce our children’s exposure to the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.”

A growing trend for teens is the use of electronic cigarettes, which would be included in the ban. According to a University of Hawaii Cancer Center study, 49 percent of teens have tried e-cigarettes. The use of these devices has been linked to asthma.

Oahu resident David Thomas supports the idea “for the safety and well-being of the children, because you figure smoke, it just tears up lungs as you know, so I think that passing the law is a good thing.”

As for how the law would be enforced, Elefante says he’s open to discussing that with the Honolulu Police Department as the bill moves forward.

*Hawaii County Code Section 14-21 (a) (12) and Kauai County Code Section 22-8.2 (o)

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