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LETTERS for the July 23 issue

By Staff | Jul 23, 2020

Open up tourism and let us earn a living

This morning, there was a line for one box of food organized by the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua. The line was over a mile, and now the money from the CARES Act is over.

Thank you and God bless you, Ritz-Carlton, but what now? How does our Maui ‘Ohana survive?

Please, Governor Ige, let us open wisely. For those of us that are strong and healthy, and have been doing our diligence to strengthen our immune system, let us work.

For our kupuna and those at risk, continue to stay home and isolate. We will wear masks, and we will sanitize our work space.

Governor Ige, you can proactively set up hospital beds in buildings not currently used, and bring in healthcare workers to be ready should the need arise.

Test visitors prior to arrival. Take temperatures at OGG.

But please, let us earn a living. Let us feed our keiki.



County lawmakers deserve praise for cutting budget

Maui lawmakers should be congratulated for trimming this year’s county budget to $1 million less than the previous year. It was only a 0.1 percent cut, but still it demonstrates that they can reduce their spending, if they try.

Mayor Michael Victorino had originally proposed increasing the annual budget by $46 million, to 5.6 percent, to $869 million, but council members slashed all of that plus an additional $1 million.

The county’s crashing tax revenues due to the Coronavirus-inspired state and county lockdowns might have had something to do with their newfound budgetary restraint, but whatever the reason, they still acted responsibly, and the mayor went along with it.

If county officials could approach their budgeting like this every year, eventually they could create enough leeway to lower taxes, which would help Maui residents afford the county’s high cost of living.

Let’s hope Maui policymakers adopt this year’s budgeting actions as their “new normal.”

JOE KENT, Executive Vice President, Grassroot Institute of Hawaii


Virus does not discriminate

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 virus does not discriminate between smart and stupid.

Otherwise, we would already have a lot of different people in local, state and federal government, including a new POTUS.



Big Tobacco will continue addicting Hawaii’s youth

Tobacco companies will continue to addict Hawaii’s youth if a proposed bill to end the sale of flavored tobacco products, House Bill (HB) 2457, is enacted.

That’s because the bill was amended on July 2 to exempt all menthol-flavored tobacco products, including menthol e-cigarettes and menthol cigarettes.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) Hawaii opposes any bill restricting the sales of flavored tobacco products that does not include menthol-flavored cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

Menthol acts to mask the harsh taste of tobacco with a minty flavor that soothes throat irritation, making it easier for first-time users to tolerate.

The cooling sensation is why it is a flavor that kids prefer when they first try tobacco products.

Additionally, menthol may enhance the delivery of nicotine, increasing dependency and reducing cessation success.

We urge that the Legislature take necessary steps to address menthol cigarettes and e-cigarettes in HB 2457 and put an end to the negative health affects promoted by the tobacco industry.

Menthol has long been used a means of enticing youth into tobacco addiction.

Pacific Island smokers have paid a huge price, with 78 percent of Native Hawaiian smokers currently hooked on menthol cigarettes, leading to a huge toll on their health as well as the state’s tobacco-related health care costs.

Now, the same threat is facing keiki who are falling for flavors and getting hooked on e-cigarettes at rates that are some of the highest in the country.

New data by the Food and Drug Administration shows more than 63 percent of kids prefer mint- or menthol-flavored tobacco products – only 2 percent less than fruit and significantly more than candy flavorings.

Most flavored cigarettes were taken off the market by the FDA in 2009, but the federal restrictions did not include menthol-flavored cigarettes, nor did the flavoring restrictions apply to all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.

Sadly, more than 2,500 of the state’s residents will die from cancer, and a third of those deaths will be caused by tobacco use, which is why the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Hawaii volunteer advocates are passionate about stopping the skyrocketing use of e-cigarettes among keiki.

Many have lost loved ones to tobacco use and are horrified at the trend showing alarming numbers of youth being lured into a potential lifetime addiction to tobacco.

It is important that Hawaii residents let their state lawmakers know they are in favor of halting the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol products.”