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Increasing Impact through Advocacy on Kaua‘i

On Saturday, March 2, 2024, the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i (CTFH), Ho’okele Coalition, and the Hawai‘i Alcohol Policy Alliance (HIAPA) coordinated a training for Kaua‘i youth (ages middle and high school) and adults to gain advocacy skills, knowledge and experience in reading bills and writing testimony in support of legislation. The training followed the legislative process at the state level and focused on how to support priority bills that would improve public health and safety. It also included information on how to engage Kaua‘i County Council for local advocacy.

The CTFH Kaua‘i Coordinator, Valerie Saiki, shared how various advocacy activities impacted Hawai‘i’s history in tobacco control and how testimony writing and meetings with lawmakers can impact how they represent constituent voices during a hearing. Initially, this training would include two tobacco priority bills, but unfortunately those bills died before the training. The bill, ending the sale of flavored tobacco products (amended) and restoring the county’s authority to regulate tobacco sales (HB 1778), was not scheduled for a hearing by the March 1 lateral filing deadline.

The HIAPA Statewide Coordinator, Chelsea Gonzales, educated participants on navigating the state legislature website (capitol.hawaii.gov) and assisted every participant in registering on the capitol website. Chelsea went on to explain the alcohol bill (SB 2384) that would lower the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) from 0.08 to 0.05, which will improve road safety by keeping impaired drivers off Hawai‘i roads.  This collaborative training aimed to connect motivated voices eager to share their experiences and vision for positive health changes in our community and join our coalitions. CTFH continues our work to reduce tobacco use in Hawai‘i through education, policy, and advocacy. Ho’okele Coalition members work together for drug-free youth communities.

Some of the expectations for this training were to learn how to create testimony that resonates with lawmakers. District 16 State Representative Luke Evslin, Kaua‘i County Council Chair Mel Rapozo, and Sergeant Morris “Mo” Unutoa sat on a panel sharing their experiences in passing bills, witnessing good bills die, and enforcement efforts after a bill is signed into law. The participants were eager to learn from this collection of experienced elected officials and law enforcement. The panel discussions were so inspiring and educational that participants suggested increasing the length of the training and panel in the evaluations—Mahalo to our panelists for a successful session!

The training concluded with an option to participate in a sign-waving advocacy event at the Līhu‘e Airport intersection to show support for safe driving practices, underage drinking awareness, and violence prevention.

For information on CTFH or Tobacco-Free Kaua‘i, please email valerie@hiphi.org.

For information on Ho‘okele Coalition on Kaua‘i, please visit: linktr.ee/HOOKELECOALITION

For information on HIAPA or alcohol policy, please email chelsea@hiphi.org.

Valerie K. Saiki

Valerie K. Saiki

Kaua‘i Community Coordinator (CTFH)
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