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Honolulu Bars, Restaurants, Clubs Required to Carry Naloxone to Prevent Overdoses

Businesses with a license to serve alcohol could be fined for not carrying the nasal spray treatment

Honolulu Bars, Restaurants, Clubs Required to Carry Naloxone to Prevent Overdoses

A newly effective ordinance requires bars, nightclubs and restaurants to carry medication used to prevent opioid overdoses.

The naloxone requirement was introduced in May after a series of overdoses. Honolulu County is the first jurisdiction in the nation to mandate businesses that have a state liquor license to carry the nasal spray antidote. 

Tyler Dos Santos-Tam, the Honolulu City Council member who introduced the policy, hopes the new law “will not only save lives” but “set an example for other cities throughout the United States.”

“Naloxone is a necessary tool these days in light of the national opioid epidemic,” he told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “It should be available and accessible in as many places as possible, in the same way we have fire extinguishers and defibrillators in case of emergencies.”

The law, Bill 28, imposes a $200 fine on businesses that do not comply. Businesses also have to ensure the naloxone is maintained and replace any that have expired.

“The chance of an overdose can drastically increase when opioids are combined with alcohol,” states the policy. “The drugs can enhance each other’s effects, causing a number of serious side effects and/or death. Fortunately, naloxone has been proven to counter overdose effects and save lives. Naloxone is not a controlled substance and has no known abuse potential.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hawaii recorded 269 overdose deaths in 2021, or approximately 17.3 overdose deaths for 100,000 people. Overall, there were 106,699 overdose deaths in the United States that year.

Approximately 75% of drug overdose deaths in 2021 involved at least one opioid; 66% of deaths involved synthetic opioids (e.g., illicitly manufactured fentanyls),” reported the CDC. “Drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids increased 25%, deaths involving psychostimulants (e.g., methamphetamine) increased 37%, and deaths involving cocaine increased 26% from 2020 to 2021.”

Hawaii has just over $3 million total in overdose prevention funding.

Business owners and healthcare professionals supported Bill 28.

"Our bars and nightclubs must be prepared for every contingency. I am grateful that the City Council is taking on this important issue. This bill will protect businesses, patrons, and the public at large,” Robbie Baldwin, the owner of the nightclub Scarlet Honolulu, told KHON2.

“We are witnessing an alarming increase in the use of fentanyl which has infiltrated into our communities. Our neighbors and friends who should still be here, are no longer with us,” said Jim Ireland, Director of the Honolulu Emergency Services Department, while speaking with the outlet. “We believe this bill will save lives.”

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