It sounds a little like what you might hear from your mother — or what the leader of a Nanny State might tell you: Don’t drink and smoke, eat fruits and vegetables, get plenty of exercise.

Yet Republican Duke Aiona has aggressively advocated for healthy lifestyles as lieutenant governor and would continue to do so if elected governor. His experience as a Drug Court judge, meanwhile, has persuaded him that intervention is the best way to help addicts kick bad habits and avoid incarceration.

Aiona has said he respects Hawaii’s Prepaid Health Care Act of 1974 and wants to see a majority of local residents insured.

In this he appears at odds with national Republicans who talk of repealing the federal health-care reform act signed into law by President Obama this year. For them, health care is not an entitlement

Aiona has also expressed concern about the federal law’s impact on the local law, particularly as it impacts small business — a core Republican constituency.

But there are two other health-related areas where Aiona has shown himself to lean differently than many conservatives: drug treatment and preventative health care.

Drug Treatment

While he prides himself on being a law-and-order type, he is not a “lock ’em up and throw away the key” type — especially when it comes to drug addiction.

The lieutenant governor’s interest in treatment was informed through his experience as a city prosecutor and city attorney, and later as a judge in Family Court, First Circuit Court and the Hawaii Drug Court.

Aiona was the first administrative judge of the Drug Court, and he claims credit for using rehabilitation as a way to keep non-violent offenders out of prison and return them to society.

Aiona’s campaign page states, “Under Duke’s leadership, this highly successful program saw 85% of offenders stay in the program and out of prison.”

Aiona told Civil Beat the story of one “client” that has stayed with him. It involved a woman who chose probation instead of drug court but shortly got busted again.

“When I was a judge I was pretty consistent, and so you knew if I said something I would follow through on it,” he explained. “I didn’t have idle threats in my court room. So if I said this is — you got one chance, if you fail you are going to go to jail — they knew it.”

The woman begged Aiona, who gave her another chance.

“I don’t know, I guess maybe I had compassion for her, I don’t know what it was, but anyway I said, ‘OK,'” he explained. “And she knew that this was a gift because it wasn’t supposed to happen.”

Aiona said the woman succeeded in meeting the requirements of Drug Court. When Aiona saw her again, he knew she had got of drugs because she had gained weight.

“I know if you are clean if you have a little opu,” he said, meaning stomach. “It’s true, because know I know they are eating instead of taking drugs, they are eating instead of drinking booze.”

Drug Summits

Aiona’s commitment to treatment did not disappear when he was elected lieutenant governor in 2002.

In 2003, he helped form Hawaii’s first Drug Control Strategy Summit to bring together government, nonprofit groups and community members “to create an all-encompassing strategy that included community mobilization, prevention, treatment and vigorous law enforcement to deal with illegal drug and alcohol use.”

Aiona believes a drop in the production and use of crystal methamphetamine can be attributed to strategies that came out of the summit and similar efforts.

According to Project Vote Smart, Aiona belongs to the following committees:

• Advisory Commission on Drug-Free Communities

• Corrections Population Management Commission

• Advisory Committee, Hawaii Drug Court

• Keep Children Alcohol Free

• Advisory Council, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Aiona was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2006 to the Advisory Commission on Drug-Free Communities, which advises the director of the White House Office of National Drug Policy.

Preventative Health Care

Conservatives believe government should largely stay out of the personal lives of individuals. But in some ways, Aiona’s advocacy for leading healthy lifestyles is not all that different from, say, the childhood obesity program First Lady Michelle Obama has championed.

“Too many of our health care dollars are spent on treating the consequences of unhealthy lifestyles rather than promoting and rewarding healthy living,” according to Aiona’s health platform. “Promote preventive approaches that focus on diet, exercise and regular medical check-ups.”

Aiona told Civil Beat he does not mean to impose his views on the populace, but to serve as a role model.

(The risk to being a role model is when the role model doesn’t take his own medicine. The lieutenant governor found himself appearing hypocritical earlier this month when it was revealed he had not received a flu vaccination even as he encouraged residents to get vaccinated. Aiona soon reversed himself and got the shot.)

He said while the advice to eat right, avoid cigarettes and alcohol, and to walk the stairs — i.e., the Hawaii Healthy Initiative — may seem obvious, “there’s a lot of people out there who don’t know that because that hasn’t been their lifestyle.”

Aiona added, “Let me tell you, people come up to you and they say, ‘Hey, thank you, I’m following your advice.'”

Aiona’s views on drug treatment and healthy lifestyles are very much a part of his gubernatorial campaign.

“An Aiona-Finnegan Administration will work with the legal system to sustain specialty courts and create others as an alternative to prison, including DUI (Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs) Court, Domestic Violence Court, Homelessness Court and Military Veterans’ Court,” according to the ticket’s health platform.

Aiona says he also wants to work with hospitals to expand SBIRT (screening, briefing, intervention, referral and treatment) programs, which are based on the belief that substance abusers are more likely to enter drug treatment when they have suffered an overdose. He also wants to make Access To Recovery programs permanent parts of the state hospital system.

If elected governor, Aiona says he will work with the state’s Insurance Commissioner and the State Employer-Union Trust fund to recommend premiums that provide discounts for people who exercise, avoid smoking, limit drinking and see their doctors regularly.

Learn about Abercrombie’s Shades of Red, on topics such as the military, the estate tax and same-sex marriage and also about how he stood alone on a controversial vote on aid for the Palestinian government.

Learn more about Aiona’s Shades of Blue, on topics such as the Akaka Bill, the homeless and clean energy and sustainability.

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