I'm not here to start a debate on smokers' rights or how far away one has to be to smoke a cigarette--or to dismiss the paranoid concept that "soon, Big Brother will take away your right to have a smoke in your own car or home.
The purpose of this column is not to argue whether smoking is good for you or not; nor is it to convince smokers to try to quit. As a former smoker myself, I know how difficult that can be. I simply want to point out that another hurdle in the fight against tobacco has been successful.
This column is not about that.
There is no longer any smoking allowed on the beaches of Maui—period.
All arguments are obsolete now, because whether one likes it or not, the days of "smokers rights" are over.
Finally, the bill has been approved and passed and it's the law. There is no longer any smoking allowed on the beaches of Maui--period.
This law is only the first step toward keeping our Valley Isle beaches clean and pristine; the next step, hopefully, will be the placement of no smoking signs at every beach access entrance to inform tourists and to remind local residents of this new and wonderful rule.
As I write this, I am reading some silly comments on Facebook from outraged people. Some of them are, obviously, still hooked on cigs and angry about the fact that they are unable to quit. Others cite outdated, pro-second-hand smoke links from the 1980s. And then, of course, there's the usual predictable posts from self-called "libertarians," who are really only "live free or die" zealots still clinging to the thought that it's their unalienable right as Americans to poison everyone downwind because it's only killing moderately with harmless, indirect toxicity, and blah, blah, blah.
Why are we having this debate, people? The war on tobacco in America has been over for 10 years now, and it's only a matter of time when cigarettes will be a dopey rarity and mostly just a thing of the past (within two generations in America, for sure, and maybe a little longer in Europe and Asia, where the tobacco companies have emigrated to and are now firmly entrenched).
Look around you at outdoor events, football stadiums, sidewalk signs, storefront signs, smoke-free malls, the workplace, planes, restaurants, outdoor cafes and on and on.
In the words of Bob Dylan, "It's all over now baby blue."
Our right to breathe clean air (and maybe someday, without the occasional burnt sugar cane field flakes in our orange juice) is here and this is a cause to celebrate cleaner air and better health on the greatest island in America.
Get the signage up there on the beaches, please, county officials, to help give this new law some teeth, core credibility and enforceability.
This opinion column is written by Charles Laquidara, who has lived on Maui since 2000. He worked at WBCN radio in Boston for 30 years as the morning-drive host of a show called "The Big Mattress." Email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow his daily ramblings on Facebook.