Hawaii could be the first state to say smoking age may increase to 21. A bill introduced by Senator Rosalyn Baker is on its way to the Governor of the State of Hawaii for his signature. Governor Ige has not yet indicated if it will be signed, but it was cleared by the Legislature on Friday to head to the governor’s desk. The Governor’s decision will come after his staff has had a chance to review the bill. The historically liberal state and legislature appears to be leaning towards more stringent restrictions on tobacco due to the health consequences of smoking as well as the risks to those in close proximity to those that do. The addictive nature of tobacco products and the impressionability of youth make the introduction to smoking at a young age a risky combination. The legislature appears to be trying to discourage the young people from starting a dangerous habit through legislation.
If passed, the resulting law would keep people under the age of 21 from purchasing, smoking, or possessing cigarettes (regular or electronic), in the state of Hawaii. The Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network had representatives outside the Honolulu Legislature in celebration of the action. Similar legislation has already become local law in New York City, and many other localities but not on a state level to date.
Some members of the military and others are stating that if you can be old enough to risk your life for your country, you should be allowed to smoke tobacco products. Senator Gill Riviere (D-Hawaii), who voted against the bill, said you can get married, sign contracts and go to war at 18, and that responsible adults should be able to have a cigarette if they so choose.
It is reported by the Department of Health that 5,600 children in Hawaii begin smoking each year, and the number of people dying every year from tobacco use/exposure is approximately 1,400.