Hawaii Signals to Smoking Japanese Tourists

Fewer Japanese tourists are visiting Hawaii since the state implemented a ban on smoking in public places, but tourism officials have run afoul of health advocates in their attempts to win visitors back.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported Aug. 28 that Hawaii Tourism Japan has been handing out free portable ashtrays to Japanese tourists to dispel the notion that smoking is banned everywhere in Hawaii. The campaign is called “Smoking with Aloha,” and the ashtrays has a flower logo with the motto “Keep Hawaii Clean.” About 40,000 have been produced.

“Japanese believe that Hawaii is smoke-free, and Hawaii bookings, especially for the group market, have suffered,” said Yumi Ozaki, local director for Hawaii Tourism Japan.

But Kathy Harty, interim president of the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii, said, “We shouldn't give the message that aloha means smoking. It's very unfortunate that they chose to go that route. Why don't they give nonsmokers who chose to come here a lei? This is not really sending a message that Hawaii is concerned about good health.”

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