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State could elbow therapists out of massage ads

By Sam Eifling / Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 02:57 p.m. HST, Feb 11, 2014

Massage, spa and escort ads would be restricted under a bill state lawmakers are considering.

The bill targets ads that use the words "massage," ''relaxation," ''escort," ''spa" or "body rub." It says those ads cannot include physical descriptions or photos of the therapist except for the person's hands, wrists and forearms.

Supporters of the bill tell lawmakers that human traffickers exploit women and children as sex workers. Those supporters testified that suggestive photos and language in ads amount to thinly veiled solicitations for prostitution.

Honolulu media commonly carry ads for relaxation and massage services. They can be found online, as well as tucked in the back of the local daily newspaper's sports section. Ads from recent Sunday editions of the Star-Advertiser show photos of young women smiling beside slogans promising "Beautiful New Girls" and "Very Friendly Girl." Set below those are ads flogging adult DVDs.

The measure, Senate Bill 2376, faces obstacles.

Sen. Rosalyn Baker, a Democrat representing south and west Maui and the chairwoman of the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee, said in a hearing Tuesday the state's attorney general's office has said the bill may be too restrictive under the First Amendment.

"I have a lot of high-end spas in my district, and they're concerned about what they might be able to advertise," she said. She added that she wants to see the measure "stay alive."

The lone objection to the bill raised Tuesday came from Sen. Sam Slom, the Senate's lone Republican, representing Hawaii Kai.

"I think there are a number of significant concerns with the First Amendment but also the kinds of decisions about advertising left to the state," Slom said. His was the lone vote in committee against advancing the bill to the Judiciary Committee, the bill's next destination.

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star08 wrote:
Why limit legitimate businesses outreach? This is a deliberate restriction of first amendment rights. Thanks Sam for speaking out!
on February 11,2014 | 02:19PM
kuewa wrote:
I never thought I would ever agree with Sam Slom, but I'm agreeing with him on this one. In addition to 1st Amendment issues, one has to wonder how many taxpayer-funded hours and legal costs have been and will be expended on this ridiculous proposal. Exploitation is bad, but addressing it with ridiculous regulations is ridiculous.
on February 11,2014 | 03:08PM
dontbelieveinmyths wrote:
Don't you guys and gals at the square building have bigger fish to fry? You go in session for four months and all you can do to fix our economy is this? Oh and don't forget the important issue of buying concert tickets!
on February 11,2014 | 03:10PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
"Very Friendly Girl."

The best kind. What? You don't like friendly girls? You like unfriendly girls instead?

on February 11,2014 | 04:26PM
WalkoffBalk wrote:
Should tv newscasters only show their lips on tv because they're only speaking?
on February 11,2014 | 09:00PM
username_required wrote:
How about banning all Donovan dela Cruz photos showing massive teeth and the 5.9-mm gap between the top and bottom rungs? Google image search it!
on February 11,2014 | 09:06PM
loquaciousone wrote:
I would rather ban Abercrombie from the news since it takes a wide angle lens to get him and the rest of the people into the same shot.
on February 12,2014 | 06:09AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
Is Sam Slom the only person in that building with any sense?

on February 12,2014 | 05:13AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Next time you go for a massage you might get Hulk Hogan.
on February 12,2014 | 06:08AM
honopic wrote:
Ads "flogging" adult DVD'? Seriously? How did that get by the editors?
on February 12,2014 | 12:09PM
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