A bill to ban tobacco use at Maui's county parks and beaches passed its second and final reading Tuesday in the Maui County Council.
Bill 24 gained approval with an 8-0 vote on Earth Day after the lawmakers received more than 400 letters of testimony since the bill was introduced 42 days ago.
“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,” said council member Don Guzman.
Guzman said he introduced the bill in response to the countywide cleanup effort called "Butts Off Our Beaches.” The campaign led by students and volunteer organizations calls for the cleanup of Maui County’s shorelines and has led to the collection of more than 18,000 cigarette butts in two months.
Officials say student Gina Marzo of Maui Preparatory Academy helped lead the effort. Marzo calls 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.
Currently, Hawaii County and the City and County of Honolulu have implemented smoke-free policies at parks and beaches.
No word on how Maui's Mayor Alan Arakawa will treat the bill when it gets to his desk.