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Hawaii County lawmaker accepted gifts from anti-tobacco lobby

KAILUA-KONA >> Gift disclosures filed last month show a lawmaker accepted a $536 plane ride from anti-tobacco lobbyists before sponsoring a ban on e-cigarettes anywhere tobacco is prohibited.

The Honolulu-based Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii paid for Hawaii County Council Chairman Dru Kanuha to fly to a policy stakeholder meeting in September, about a month before he introduced the e-cigarette bill that later passed, West Hawaii Today reported.

The group also paid to fly a staff member to leadership training in November.

Kanuha in 2013 sponsored another law on behalf of the coalition, this one raising the tobacco purchasing age from 18 to 21.

The councilman was traveling Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.

Four councilmembers filed disclosures with the ethics board.

The company behind a healthy communities’ initiative on Hawaii Island paid over $2,200 to fly Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter to a project summit.

The two councilmembers who didn’t file reports say they don’t accept gifts more valuable than flowers or lei.

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