Every year, Hawai‘i Public Health Institute surveys elected officials or candidates running for office, depending on the year. The purpose of the survey is to determine where elected officials and candidates stand on various public health issues and to inform voters and encourage transparency and accountability. The State Legislature has the power to enact laws, adopt resolutions, propose amendments to the State Constitution and approve the State Budget – all things that can impact the lives and health of Hawai‘i residents.
This year, as it was a non-election year, we sent the survey to the state legislature, Governor, and Lieutenant Governor for a total of 78 surveys. They were asked two types of questions: 1) to assess their attitudes and beliefs on various public health issues, and 2) rank various policies that address public health issues in order of support.
Elected officials were offered both paper and electronic versions of the survey, and had two weeks to respond. In an attempt to increase participation, we provided additional drop-offs of paper copies, e-mail reminders, phone calls and have accepted responses on a rolling basis. Despite our numerous follow-up measures, only 26 out of 76 State Legislators responded, with no response from the Governor or Lieutenant Governor.
Highlights from the Survey
Respondents were generally in agreement that electronic smoking devices (commonly called e-cigarettes, vapes, mods, e-pens, etc.) are flavored and marketed to appeal to youth. Although we have laws meant to prevent youth from accessing these products, loopholes remain. Respondents felt that the best way to regulate electronics smoking devices would be to enact a tobacco tax on the devices and require permits (licensing) for electronic smoking device retailers and wholesalers.
Support was unanimous for preventative benefits in adult Medicaid plans, health and PE courses as a mandatory part of middle school curriculum, and Double Bucks programs, which make fresh, local produce more accessible to low-income families. The survey results are available here, sorted by topic.
Hawai‘i Pubic Health Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and does not endorse candidates or other elected officials. In some cases, nonprofits may endorse bills or pieces of legislation.