Kokua Line: No-smoking law doesn’t apply at open-air bar in Kakaako
How does the Row Bar at Restaurant Row get away with allowing people to smoke, cigars no less?
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Question: How does the Row Bar at Restaurant Row get away with allowing people to smoke, cigars no less? It’s obnoxious. Now that HPU is there, there are lots of people needing the cement tables in the common area during lunchtime and it’s difficult to find a place to sit away from the smoke.
Answer: Hawaii’s smoke-free law prohibits smoking inside restaurants, bars and other businesses that are enclosed or partially enclosed, meaning they have a roof or overhang and at least two walls. The Row Bar in Kakaako at Waterfront Plaza (formerly known as Restaurant Row) is an open-air facility with no walls and therefore Hawaii Revised Statutes Chapter 328-J does not seem to apply, according to the state Department of Health.
The restaurant and bar has its own tables and chairs under its roof, and sits amid a courtyard filled with cement tables used by patrons of adjacent restaurants, stores and other businesses.
Jessie Ibanez, director of food/beverage and fine wine and liquor stores for Tamura Enterprises Inc., which owns the Row Bar, said it strives to serve all customers comfortably.
“One of our cigar-smoking protocols is to have cigar smokers sit at the far end of the bar, basically the section closest to Ala Moana Boulevard, to help alleviate and pay respect to nonsmokers,” he said in an email. “With the increase of a couple thousand students (HPU) per day, I think it is a given that there isn’t enough seating for all to begin with. Especially when a majority will take their lunch breaks all at the peak times between 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Our intent is to serve all customers, rather than smokers or not. We try our best to not offend anyone who doesn’t smoke.”
HPU, which occupies space in four of Waterfront Plaza’s seven main buildings, according to its website, 808ne.ws/hpu, was aware of the property’s policies when it moved in; smoking also is allowed in certain other outdoor areas.
“Since moving into Waterfront Plaza this summer, we as a university have educated our faculty, staff and students on adhering to the landlord’s rules regarding designated smoking areas at the property,” said Stephen Ward, HPU’s vice president of communications and marketing. “Additionally, HPU’s policies provide that smoking is prohibited within 20 feet of any building entrance in which HPU business or classes are held.”
That comports with HRS 328-J, with prohibits smoking outdoors within 20 feet of any entrance, exit or operable windows or ventilation intakes to partially enclosed or enclosed public places or places of employment.
Janice Okubo, a DOH spokeswoman, said that property owners or managers can go farther than state law and declare an entire property smoke-free, including its outdoor areas. The department’s Tobacco Prevention and Education Program provides technical assistance for those who wish to do so, she said. Learn more at 808ne.ws/ tobprev.
“Tobacco-free college campuses are an especially critical strategy to prevent lifelong addiction to nicotine given that the 18 to 21 age bracket is a critical juncture where many smokers adopt the habit,” she said.
Waterfront Plaza’s property manager did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
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Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email email@example.com.