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Honolulu could be first city to require Narcan at bars after 500% increase in overdose deaths

By Kathryn Doorey

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    HONOLULU (KITV) — Honolulu could become the first city in the U.S. to require Narcan in bars and nightclubs after the Honolulu City Council passed Bill 28 Wednesday — and Mayor Rick Blangiardi intends to sign it.

Honolulu has experienced an estimated 500% increase in opioid-related overdoses, according to data from the Hawaii DOH — from 59 reported deaths from 2017-2018, to 274 in 2020. The aim of the bill is to save lives, while empowering businesses to take action in case of an opioid-related emergency.

The bill was proposed by Councilmember Tyler Dos Santos-Tam and comes just four months after the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) granted over-the-counter approval to Narcan, the opioid-reversal medication.

“The opioid crisis is real. Just a month ago, two people died in a mass overdose in Waikiki. That’s two families that lost a child, a sibling, or an uncle. Three more were sent to the hospital. We can’t keep letting this happen,” Dos Santos-Tam said. “This bill takes action: It puts a life-saving medication in the places that need it. It will prevent more tragedies from happening again.”

“Overdoses happen, especially when mixed with alcohol. 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,” said Robbie Baldwin, owner of Scarlet Honolulu, a Chinatown nightclub, who supports the bill.

“The passage of Bill 28 by the Honolulu City Council today represents a collective commitment to saving lives and providing immediate assistance to those in the grips of addiction. Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is a life-saving medication that can rapidly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose and is an essential tool in our fight against this epidemic.

I want to express my deepest gratitude to Councilmember Tyler Dos Santos-Tam, who championed this bill and worked tirelessly to make it a reality, as well as to the members of the City Council who voted to pass it on Wednesday. The City Council’s commitment to public health and safety is commendable, and this measure will undoubtedly have a profound impact in our community.

This is a significant milestone, but our work is far from over. The dangerous impact of fentanyl on our city cannot be overstated; we have witnessed a staggering rise in overdose deaths, and the profound strain it has put on our healthcare system and our first responders has been especially taxing. We cannot stand idly by while this crisis continues to endanger our residents, and I look forward to signing this bill into law as quickly as possible.”

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