Hawaii intends on Raising Smoking Age

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Three years ago, Hawaii became the first state in the U.S. to ban the selling of cigarettes to anyone under the age of 21. Fast forward to now, lawmakers are looking to make it even tougher to buy cigarettes.

Under a proposal before the state Legislature, cigarette sales would be completely banned by 2024. The ban would go into effect as soon as possible, raising the minimum age for buying cigarettes to 30 in 2020. By 2022, anyone under 50 cannot buy cigarettes. And in 2024, no one under 100 would be allowed to purchase cigarettes. House Bill 1509 is a long shot but its done with best intentions in mind. It passed its first reading last week and has yet to have a hearing.

This topic has become popular both locally and nationally, even to the point of the national headline. The authors of the bill, two Democratic representatives and a Republican, said the proposed ban makes sense “, The cigarette is considered the deadliest artifact in human history,” they write, in their preamble to the bill. “The cigarette is an unreasonably dangerous and defective productive, killing half of its long-term users.”

Around 13 percent of Hawaii adults are smokers. That’s lower than the national average of 17 percent. Hawaii also has one of the nation’s highest cigarette taxes, roughly $3,20 a pack. More than a decade ago, the Hawaii Legislature significantly expanded smoke-free zones, and three years later,  included e-cigarettes in those prohibitions.

Opponents of previous measures aimed at cutting cigarette use in the islands have accused lawmakers of attempting to institute a nanny state. Others argue that instead of being concerned about cigarette use, lawmakers should turn their attention to e-cigarettes, whose use has ballooned among teens locally and nationally. The measure before lawmakers that would ban cigarette sales would not include e-cigarettes.