Hawaii Becomes First State with Smoking Age of 21

The governor of Hawaii signed a bill into law that makes the state the first to increase the legal age of smoking to 21.

The measure looks to prevent adolescents from buying, possessing, smoking both traditional and electronic cigarettes. The law was signed by Governor David Ige on Friday.

Dozens of governments at a local level have similar type bans including New York City. Increasing the minimum age as part of the state’s comprehensive control efforts on tobacco will help lower the tobacco use amongst the Hawaii youth and increase the changes the Hawaii keiki or children will grow up and be tobacco free.

In Hawaii, more than 86% of the adult smokers started smoking prior to the age of 21, according to Governor Ige’s office.

An advocacy group for non-smoking said the new law would have a strong impact on the number of smokers as it limits the access that will curb the prevalence.

However, the law’s opponent said it was unfair that a veteran who returns from serving the country in the military and risked his or her life could be prevented from smoking.

One state representative said he could not stand smoking cigarette, but voted against the legislation as he finds it wrong to tell an individual to fight for the country and possibly be killed that he or she cannot smoke.

He added that you enter into a contract to protect your country, you are an emancipated adult as far as the Constitution is concerned, but you are not able to smoke any longer.

First time offenders will be given a fine of $10, and later violations could increase to as much as $50 and or mandatory community service.

This legislation will go into effect on January 1, 2016. Up to that point, the Heath Department in Hawaii will be in touch with retailers and post new signs educating the public with regard to the new law.

According to Hawaii’s Health Department 5,600 kids in the state, try smoking each year. At the same time, 1,400 people die each year from use of tobacco or exposure to it.

 

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