Smoke Free Workplace Compliance

Aloha Dr. Pressler,

Thank you for attending our Clean Air Maui community meeting last night. Your coming over from Oahu to listen in person to our concerns speaks volumes. It means a lot to all of us that have been trying for years to see some improvement in this on going oppression of Maui’s communities by powerful big-ag business HC&S.

We are all encouraged by your coming on board as Director of Hawaii’s Department of Health. It has long been the opinion of Maui residents that the Clean Air Branch has not only been neglecting their obligations to protect our keiki and the broader populace’s right to breath clean air, but that CAB has been complicit by non-enforcement in the regular violations committed with impunity by HC&S. It is our hope that you will be able to affect real change.

Something I did not mention yesterday during the Maui Tomorrow Foundation smart phone app demo, is my concern as one of dozens of business owners who are unable to comply with Hawaii’s Smoke-Free Workplace law. As long as open field burning, an unnecessary, archaic practice, continues, Maui employers are unable to provide a smoke-free work place for their employees. My business is located in North Kihei in the light industrial park where my staff is inundated for hours on a nearly daily basis by concentrated unavoidable ground level sugar cane smoke during the 9.5 month burn season.

As a responsible employer and concerned corporate citizen, it is important to me to offer a safe workplace for my hardworking staff. For 15 years I have been powerless in the desire to provide breathable air for my staff. I am certain that the air conditions at our workplace would not be in compliance with Hawaii’s Occupational Safety & Health Division’s basic work place air quality requirements.

How do you see the Department of Health’s role in this ongoing egregious situation? Do you think that we will be able to see an improvement this year? The reality is, it is your staff that issues the permit. It is your department that is supposed to enforce the permit. We are so hopeful that you can bring leadership and change to this situation. This year, for the first time, some of our representatives have begun to speak out for the need of Maui’s communities to be able to breath clean air. HC&S is disingenuous at best regarding their impacts. This dishonest player is making people sick on a regular basis with the blessing of the ironically named Clean Air Branch.

I would be interested in your thoughts about smoke free work place requirements. Thank you for your time and consideration of these issues. It was very nice to meet you last night. Thank you again for coming over to Maui and allowing us to share our Mana’o.

With Gratitude,

Tina Wildberger