By Wendy Osher
More than 14,000 cigarette butts were collected in less than two hours during a recent island-wide cleanup effort hosted by the Maui District Student Council Organization .
The effort was aimed at reducing the amount of second-hand smoke and toxic litter on Maui’s beaches, and included cleanup efforts at Hāna Bay, Baldwin Beach, Kahului Harbor, Waiehu, Olowalu, Hanakaʻōʻō Beach and Sugar Beach.
The cleanup took place on Sunday, Jan. 12, with the support of the Surfrider Foundation Maui Chapter, the Coalition for a Tobacc0-Free Hawaiʻi, Mālama Maui Nui, and Sustainable Coastlines.
After collecting the cigarette butts, students and local leaders presented their findings to members of the Maui County Council.
The Maui County Council is taking a look at a Tobacco-Free Beaches and Parks policy, which will be introduced Friday, Feb 21, according to Sonya Niess, Maui Coordinator for The Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai`i.
Already this session, South Maui lawmaker Kaniela Ing introduced a bill at the state level that seeks to ban smoking on all public beaches  in Hawaiʻi.
“In addition to the health risks to smokers and risks caused by second-hand smoke, cigarette butts are still the primary cause of litter in Hawaiʻi,” said Ing in a legislative press release upon introducing the bill. “Smoke-free beaches will preserve the aesthetics of our shoreline, promote the health of beach goers, and protect our delicate marine ecosystems,” he said.
House Bill 325 is scheduled to be decided by the House Committee on Water and Land, and the House Committee on Ocean Marine Resources and Hawaiian Affairs on Friday, Feb. 7, at 9 a.m. in House conference room 325.