Molokai Honored for Smoke-Free Work

Provided by Heidi Hao

When Richard Sakata opened Molokai Drugs 75 years ago, he had concern and aloha for his customers. He did not think tobacco was good for the body and felt it would be a detriment to people. Although selling tobacco was lucrative, he put the health of the community ahead of his own profits and decided not to sell it. Today, his family remains steadfast in continuing the legacy of their father and their grandfather.

“Now we are only one of two independent pharmacies in Maui County. We have been a smoke-free business for 75 years and this mom-and-pop drugstore has no plans of selling a pack of cigarettes…ever,” said Kimberly Mikami Svetin, Sakata’s granddaughter and president of Molokai Drugs.

Their concern for the well-being of the entire community has been rewarded by the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Hawaii. Molokai Drugs was awarded Outstanding Business of the Year at the Alaka`i Awards earlier this month.

Michelle Magdirila of Kaunakakai was also awarded that day, as the Outstanding Young Adult Advocate of the Year. She has been a member of REAL, a tobacco-free youth advocacy group since the eighth grade. She has actively campaigned for smoke-free workplaces and fighting against the tobacco companies both here on Molokai and statewide. She graduated from Molokai High School in 2009 and currently attends the University of Hawaii – Maui College, Molokai.

“No matter what, I’ll keep fighting the tobacco industries for me, the generations before me and for the future generations of Hawaii,” she said.

The Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii is the only independent organization in Hawaii dedicated to reducing tobacco use through education, policy and advocacy. For more information contact Molokai Community Coordinator Heidi Hao at (808) 990-2415 or email 


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