16 Nov 2006

Hawaii authorities defend smoking ban

2:31 pm on 16 November 2006

Hawaii's department of health says the new anti-smoking law is necessary to protect people's health.

The law, which comes into effect tomorrow will prohibit smoking in public places, such as bars, restaurants and workplaces.

The project manager for the Department's Tobacco Control programme, Julian Lipsher, says tobacco related illnesses is costing about half a billion dollars annually in medical costs and lost productivity in Hawaii.

"The law follows the surgeon general's recommendations or report of June 2006 Health Consequence to Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke finding there was no safe level of exposure and recommending measures be taken to eliminate involuntary exposure."

Julian Lipsher.

But pro-smokers groups say the new law takes away their rights to smoke wherever they like.

Hawaii is the 14th state in the United States to enact an anti smoking law.