Governor David Ige of Hawaii has signed a new bill into law, making it illegal and punishable for anyone less than 21 years of age to smoke cigarettes or use any other tobacco products in Hawaii – the first US state to do so.
Under this new law, the use of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and other tobacco products are prohibited to teens and youths under the age of 21, and it is estimated that the law will take effect by January 2016 or sooner than that.
Any first offender will be fined $10, and subsequent offenders will be fined $50 or sentenced to compulsory community service. Meanwhile, any store that sells cigarettes or tobacco products to persons under the age of 21 will be fined $500.
Gov. Ige noted that the decision of health administrators within the state to raise minimum smoking age to 21 is part of the effort to control tobacco use within the state, and to limit its use among youths and teens while preventing health problems associated with smoking.
The executive director of the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii, Jessica Yamauchi, added that the law would have a tremendous impact by limiting access to tobacco products, and curbing its prevalence among teens and youths within the state.
The leader of the chronic disease prevention and health prevention division of the state department of health, Lola Irvin, stated that 99% of active smokers started the habit before they hit the age of 21, and so the new law prohibiting cigarettes for teens or youths less than 21 years would help to delay and possibly prevent tobacco us.
While most other US states have 18 years as the limit for smoking, Hawaii is the first state to make 21 the legal age for smoking, and some other states are already looking into raising the bar to 21 as well.