Sometimes, in the middle of the day, I escape from work and head to the nearest beach.
I just want to sit in the sun, watch the waves, and relax. The only sound is the wind, the only smell is the salty ocean.
And I can’t tell you how many times that relaxing moment is ruined — and usually by some chatty (and loud) beachgoer on a cell phone.
But that’s the nature of a public beach. People are free to talk on their phones, to eat Doritos, and, up until yesterday, smoke on the beach.
Yes, a new law — Bill 72 — took effect prohibiting smoking at several beaches and parks on Oahu. The law, though, can only be enforced at Ala Moana Beach for now, though the bill includes Duke Kahanamoku Beach Park, Kapiolani Beach Park, Kapiolani Beach Park Center, Kapiolani Park, Kuhio Beach Park and Sandy Beach. Police can fine violators $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second and — get this — $500 for any addition offense.
That’s more expensive than not wearing your seatbelt or jaywalking.
The goal of the law is to prevent secondhand smoke and the littering of cigarette butts.
And while I’m no fan of cigar smoke and I’m not a smoker myself, I can think of far worse things that people do on public beaches than light up.
I’m not sure if a ban is going to work, especially when it can only be enforced at one beach. And does it make sense to spend time and money on combating those who smoke on the beach when there are other far more serious issues our government should focus on?
Tourism is our largest industry, I get it, so it makes sense to keep our beaches clean and to provide a positive experience for everyone. But is this really going to help?
You tell me.