‘Breathe’ concert to praise smokeless air

HONOLULU, HI – The American Lung Association of Hawaii (ALAH) therefore is resolved to begin 2008 by rallying support in the community to advance the cause of lung health.

The first annual “Breathe Concert—Clean Air for Everyone” featuring a top lineup of Hawaii entertainers will begin at 7 p.m. on January 12th at the Hawaii Theater. Among more than 20 entertainers are numerous Hoku and Po`Okela award winners. ALAH Executive Director Jean Evans said Hawaii’s finest entertainers will lend their support to retaining existing laws that protect the quality of the indoor air in which they perform. The concert will be held four days before the State Legislature convenes.

“Our timing is no coincidence,” Evans said. “Passage of the law that prohibits smoking in bars, restaurants, airports, offices and all other public spaces was a milestone in public health. We must protect this pro-health law and focus attention on the necessity to retain and strengthen it during the 2008 legislative session. In addition, we must continue our funding to support adults and children who suffer from asthma and other chronic pulmonary diseases. This fabulous concert will help us do that.”

Entertainer and ALAH Board member Cathy Foy-Mahi is chairing The Breathe Concert. Foy said she gladly accepted the invitation to lead this major fundraising effort because she knows the importance of clean indoor air. “I sing for a living and can’t tolerate smoking where I earn my livelihood,” Foy said. “The new no-smoking law is a hit among all the entertainers because it will extend our careers, as well as our lives. The evidence continues to support the fact that secondhand smoke kills!”

Loretta Ables is another island entertainer who supports the new law and the concert. “I am asthmatic and suffered for years singing in public while surrounded by smokers,” said Ables, who will play Bloody Mary in Lincoln Center Theater’s forthcoming production of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific. “It was especially difficult when cigar smoking was the rage and we would literally have groups of 10-20 people coming in surrounding us and lighting up cigars. The air was so thick you could hardly see through it. I absolutely could not breathe, and my doctors said I was in serious risk of losing my voice altogether because of the secondhand smoke. I totally support the cause, the concert and the fight for clean air!”

The concert’s honorary chair is former Hawaii First Lady Lynne Waihee, who urged Hawaii residents to start the New Year right and join the crusade for clean air. “As an island state, we know all too well the importance of clean air, both indoors and outdoors,” Waihee said. “Please join us as we work to prevent lung disease and promote lung health through research and education, and celebrate with us as many of Hawai`i’s top entertainers come together to support our efforts.”

Song Written and Recorded for Concert

Foy has spearheaded the creation of a signature song titled “Breathe” that was written for the ALAH and its concert by composer Johnson Enos. The song, arranged by Kenneth Makuakane of the multi-award winning group The Pandanus Club, was recorded in Hawaii at the Avex Studios by several noted island entertainers. Local broadcasters have been asked to give the song significant airplay leading up to the January 12th concert.

The ALAH revealed earlier this year that 44 percent of the 1,400 students surveyed about at-home smoking said someone in their home smokes. “These results suggest that far too many family members seem unaware that their smoking habit is harming their children,” Evans said. “We must continue our work to spread the word to smokers that the health of their entire family can be improved now and for decades to come if they accept our help and quit.”

— Hawaii joined 13 others states in prohibiting smoking in public places, including bars and restaurants, when it implemented a new law in November 2006. The law is a health-protection measure that safeguards everyone in those locations from secondhand smoke, a proven health hazard. Evans said the ALAH supports clean air quality — inside and outdoors — and is working to ensure that the dangers of secondhand smoke are well understood by our community.

“The Breathe Concert will be our largest event in years and will help us continue our efforts,” Evans said. “We welcome the support of everyone who enjoys clean air and ask them to join us on January 12th for this important fundraising event.”

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