Hawaii Could Become The First State To Raise Minimum Age For Smoking To 21



Lighting up a cigarette will only be legal for adults over the age of 21 in Hawaii soon, as the state prepares to become the first in the U.S. to bump the minimum legal age to partake in tobacco products up from 18.

The bill has cleared the Hawaii Legislature and is on its way to the governor for final approval, reports the Associated Press, and keeps people under the age of 21 from smoking, buying or possessing both traditional and electronic cigarettes.

Anyone caught in violation of the law would be fined $10 for the first offense, with subsequent incidents prompting a $50 fine or mandatory community service.

Gov. David Ige hasn’t made up his mind whether or not to sign the bill, however, and says his staff vets all bills for legal issues first.

“The departments will be doing their review and then we’ll have the opportunity to look at it,” Ige said.

If he signs it into law, Hawaii would be the first state to raise the legal smoking age to 21, though several local governments including Hawaii County and New York City have done so. Washington state, Utah and Colorado have also considered boosting the legal minimum age.

Proponents of such laws say raising the legal age to buy cigarettes to 21 would result in fewer smokers. In Hawaii, the state Department of Health says 5,600 kids try smoking every year, with 90% of daily smokers starting the habit before they turn 19.

“Today we have the opportunity to change the paradigm,” said Democratic state Sen. Rosalyn Baker, who introduced the bill. She says the favorite flavors of teens using electronic cigarettes are sweet tart and “unicorn puke, which is described as a combination of every flavor of Skittle in one.”

“While the industry is not allowed to directly market to children, it is still developing packaging and advertising products in ways that appeal to children,” she said.

But critics say that if someone is deemed old enough to enter military service in this country, they should be allowed to come home and smoke a cigarette if they want to.

“You can sign up and be in the military and basically give your life for your country. You can vote,” the owner of a vape store in Hawaii told the AP. “Why shouldn’t you be able to choose if you want to buy tobacco products or vaping products, when you’re considered a legal adult?”

Hawaii poised to become 1st state to raise smoking age to 21 [Associated Press]

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