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Hawaii consider increasing smoking age to 21

Published on March 9th, 2015 00:00

It could become more difficult to smoke traditional cigarettes, as well as electronic ones, in Hawaii, particularly for the younger generation.

Hawaii lawmakers are planning on increasing the legal smoking age from 18 to 21 for electronic and regular cigarettes. They are also interested in prohibiting both forms of smoking in the state's parks and public hospitals.

Smoking Ban on Beaches

"It's vital issue to take care of the young people and protect them from tobacco consumption," said Jessica Yamauchi, executive director of the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii. "Cigarette makers purposely focus on youngsters to get 'replacement smokers' to make sure the economic future of the tobacco market."

In Hawaii, 5,600 pupils from sixth to 12th grade try smoking for the first time each year, and consequently, 1,400 become regular smokers, according to the coalition.

Advocates of the bill said e-cigarette firms also are concentrating on teenagers by making products that taste like candies or fruits.

The panel also evolved bills to ban smoking electronic smoking devices or traditional cigarettes, no matter what age, in state parks and public hospitals.

Supporters for the ban in state parks said litter from cigarette butts is a big dilemma. In an island-wide housecleaning of Maui beaches, people from the Surfrider Foundation collected over 14,000 cigarette butts within several hours, said Stuart Coleman, the group's Hawaii coordinator.

All bills now are sent to the full House for a vote. Because the committee did not completely agree the smoking plans, Chairman Karl Rhoads suggested keeping a faulty successful date in all bills, a step which guarantees that each bill will ultimately go back to the committee if approved by the Senate.