Honolulu – Hawaii has become the first state to implement a law that forbids people under 21 years old to purchase both traditional Tabaco and electronic cigarettes. The new law became effective on January 1st.

Health advocates all over the country have applauded the state decision. Local Tabaco control activists called the new law a step forward and an example for other states. Jessica Kazakos, the program coordinator for the Merced County Tobacco Control Coalition said that the latest law may cut cigarette accessibility to teenagers and could be helpful in discouraging smoking overall.

Photo: The Huffington Post.
Photo: The Huffington Post.

The law, that went thought a three-month grace period, hopes that by making it more difficult for young people to access cigarettes at a young age they won’t develop the unhealthy habit because of brain development, children can get nicotine addiction quicker, The program coordinator for the Merced County Tobacco Control Coalition, Jessica Kazakos said. Hawaiian officials decided to include electronic smoking devices in the law after they noticed a rise in the number of students that have been trying electronic cigarettes.

“While smoking rates have drastically decreased among Hawaii’s youth and adults, there has been a recent and rapid increase in e-cigarette use. Only 5 percent of Hawaii public high school students reported trying e-cigarettes in 2011 versus 22 percent in 2014, representing a 344 percent increase in e-cigarette use in just four years. Among middle school students, e-cigarette use jumped 542 percent during the same time period, from 2 percent in 2011 to 12 percent in 2014,” the governor’s office said in a statement.

Even though the law is effective since January 1st only warnings will be issued through March. After that, retailers spotted selling cigarettes and e-cigs to individuals under the age of 21 will have to pay penalties ranging from $500 to $2,000; customers caught skirting the law will risk being fined upwards of $50 for each offense, as well as be forced to participate in community service.

Other states have also been working in promoting Tabaco control laws. More than 100 cities and counties in the United States including Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey, New York and Utah have increased the legal smoking age from 18 to 19. California State has made a proposal to increase the tobacco-buying age from 18 to 21.

Arizona recently did a poll asking people if they agree with increasing the legal age to smoke from 18 to 21. 72% of Arizonians polled said they support the age increase.

Other states are working to deal with the Tabaco problem with different procedures. Georgia and South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control announced that beginning this month it will offer free nicotine replacement therapy through its Quit Line.

Source: The Washington Times