UH Hilo passes law prohibiting tobacco and smoking

Editor-in-Chief Peter Holden Chao
Photo Courtesy of University of Hawaiʻi News


A picture of University of Hawai`is tobacco free sign

Interim Vice Chancellor Kalei Rapoza informed Ke Kalahea that the State Legislature passed SB134, which was signed into law by Governor David Ige as Act 160 on July 10, 2018 making all University of Hawaiʻi campuses and properties tobacco and smoke-free locations. Rapoza stated in an email to Ke Kalahea, “The law includes, but is not limited to, cigarettes, cigars, vaping apparatus, chewing tobacco and pipes.”

When asked about the consequences for smoking on campus Rapoza responded, “The University is in the final stages of developing policies that impact employees, students and the public.” Rapoza continued, “Until the policies are implemented, UH Hilo Security Officers are courteously reminding people smoking, vaping, or using other products prohibited by this law, that the law is in place and asking that they extinguish cigarettes or refrain from other prohibited use.”

In an email from the University of Hawaiʻi’s President David Lassner, he stated, “Prohibitions have been effective in reducing both smoking prevalence and exposure to second-hand smoke, thereby increasing smoke-free social norms. We appreciate everyone's cooperation in adjusting to this new, healthier normal.”

Ke Kalahea spoke to UH Hilo’s Political Science Professor Sarah Marusek who said of the new policy, “I can’t imagine security people will care that much unless they themselves are subject to some sort of penalty if they don’t do anything.” Marusek also thought that the new policy could cause students to use caution at first, but would eventually revert to their former smoking habits on campus. “As soon as it becomes clear that nothing will happen to you, you will see it more,” Marusek continued. “People will smoke more like they did.”

Transfer student Jorge “Xavi” De Leon Tye told Ke Kalahea, “I think that it will help fewer people pick up smoking because they don’t see it as much around campus, but I don’t think it does anything for people that are already smokers.” He continued, “In my experience, people that smoke are more than willing to go and find a place that’s out of the way where they won’t be caught doing it. I don’t think this will be the reason that anybody quits.”