WEST MAUI - The Surfrider Foundation Maui Chapter partnered with the Maui District Student Council Organization (MDSCO) to host cigarette butt cleanups around the island on Sunday, Jan. 12.
Malama Maui Nui, Sustainable Coastlines and the Hawaii Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii all pitched in to organize the cleanups and follow-up actions.
Scores of students and local leaders collected more than 14,000 cigarette butts in less than two hours and gathered at the County Building the next day to present their findings to the public and the County Council.
When Valley Isle high school students counted all the cigarette butts they collected on Jan. 12, the total came to over 14,000 in just two hours.
Recognizing their efforts, Mayor Alan Arakawa declared the day to be "Butts Off Our Beaches Day."
The Maui Chapter will be working with groups here and across the state on legislation to create smoke-free beaches.
After the Hawaii Island County Council launched a smoking ban on the Big Island's beaches and parks in 2012, Surfrider's Oahu Chapter helped pass a Smoke-Free Beaches & Parks Bill in 2013.
Now, the Maui Chapter is launching its own "Hold On To Your Butts" campaign to reduce the amount of secondhand smoke and toxic litter on our beaches, where cigarettes are the most littered items here and around the world.
Building on this momentum, South Maui Rep. Kaniela Ing has sponsored a bill to ban smoking on all beaches of Hawaii.
If House Bill 324 passes, Hawaii would become the first state in the nation to ban smoking on all of its beaches. The first hearing for the bill is slated for Wednesday, Jan. 22. Testimony can be submitted at www.capitol.hawaii.gov.