Smoking Age Raised to 21 in Hawaii

     HONOLULU (CN) – Some lawmakers are outraged after Hawaii became the first state in the country Friday to raise the smoking age to 21, even for e-cigarettes.
     While confessing disgust to smoking, Rep. Angus McKelvey, D-West Maui, said Act 122, previously known as Senate Bill 1030, tramples the rights of “emancipated adults in the eyes of the Constitution.”
     “To tell somebody you can go and fight for your country and get killed but you can’t have a cigarette, that’s the thing,” McKelvey said in an interview.
     Defense Department records show that more than 51,000 service members were stationed in Hawaii as of December 2014, along with their more than 64,700 dependents. No data is available what part of the figure accounts for service members age 18 to 21.
     In addition to raising the smoking age from 18 to 21, the law defines tobacco products as “tobacco in any form, including an electronic smoking device, cigarettes, cigars, snuff and chewing tobacco that is prepared or intended for consumption by, or the personal use of, humans.”
     It takes effect Jan. 1, 2016.
     The bill says 29 percent of ninth and 10th grade students in the state use electronic smoking devices at least once, while 18 percent use the products regularly.
     A first violation by minors is punishable by a $10 fine, succeeding offenses by $50.
     Businesses can be fined up to $500 for a first offense and $2,000 for succeeding violations.
     Retail outlets also must post a sign with letters at least ½ inch high stating: “The sale of tobacco products or electronic smoking devices to persons under twenty-one is prohibited.”
     State Sen. Rosalyn Baker, D-Maui, sponsored the bill.
     At the bill-signing ceremony in the governor’s State Capitol office, Ige emphasized the bill helps ensure a tobacco-free future for the children of Hawaii.
     While the state Department of Health and other health advocates joined Ige in lauding the bill monumental, manufacturers and retailers of vapor products and vaping accessories cried foul.
     For the Volcano Fine Electronic Cigarettes, SB 1030 unfairly classified all vapor products as tobacco products, emphasizing the consequences of the passing of the law to the vapor industry.
     “SB1030 aims to unfairly classify all vapor products as ‘Tobacco Products’ to bring vapor products into the same regulatory framework as traditional tobacco cigarettes. This will have very dire unintended consequences and threatens to decimate the vapor industry in Hawaii,” Volcano testified before the state Legislature in February.
     The vape manufacturer owns and operates 11 locations statewide and employ 100 full-time workers.
     In addition to Act 122, Gov. David Ige signed a law that follows the trend of other states to ban smoking cigarettes and tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, in state parks and beaches illegal. House Bill 525 takes effect on July 1.
     “This allows us to put one more impediment to people smoking too much,” Ige said.
     The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention names cigarette smoking as the leading cause of preventable deaths in the country, accounting for more than 480,000 deaths annually, or one of every five deaths overall.

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