Hawaii has good start to New Year by welcoming a new policy as per which, the legal age smoking in the state has been increased from 18 to 21. Hawaii has become the first state in the US to increase the legal smoking age.
The new law is active since January 1, 2016. As per the new law, consumers should be of at least 21 years old to buy tobacco products including electronic smoking devices. Last June, Governor David Ige signed a new legislation to address smoking issues among adolescents.
Hawaii’s health director Virginia Pressler said that they are proud to be again leading the nation is tobacco prevention and control. The new law also proves that Hawaii being among the healthiest people in the nations.
Establishments that will be found selling cigarettes and anything similar to below 21 years old can face penalty from $500 to $2,000. And, if underage consumers will be caught purchasing or possessing these products will be subjected to fine between $10 and $50, plus community service.
Authorities concerned have given a time period of three months to adjust to the new policy. Rather than directly penalizing, the officials have decided to first issue warnings and then fines and punishments will be given.
The law also has strict compliance on display of the products. To cite an example, all tobacco products are required to be placed behind or below the counter. Also, displays should be locked in a cabinet or drawer with only employees having the access to the same.
Hawaii has also included e-cigarettes in its smoke-free laws, which means that the state does not allow the use of e-cigarettes in places where smoking is not banned. As per the Acts 19 of the new law, people are protected from inhaling the harmful substances generated by e-cigarettes, tobacco products and other cancer-causing chemicals like formaldehyde, nitrosamines and metals.
In other news KETv reported, Hawaii is the first state in the nation to raise the legal smoking age 21. The new law, which includes traditional and electronic cigarettes, went into effect Friday. Public health officials are hoping they'll keep young people from developing an unhealthy addiction. They say one in four high school students in Hawaii try their first cigarette every year.
Several military bases in Hawaii expressed their support of the move. A Navy spokesman says it's a fitness and readiness issue. But critics say that if someone is old enough to die defending their country, they're old enough to make a decision about smoking.
In a statement provided to ScienceTimes, establishments that will be seen selling cigarettes and any of its kinds to adolescents below 21 years old can be penalized from $500 to $2,000, based on the new policy. And underage consumers caught buying or possessing these products are also subject to fines between $10 and $50, plus community service.
To give time to adjust to the new policy, a grace period of three months is allocated. Instead of directly imposing fines and punishments, warnings will be issued first. The new law also enforces strict compliance on display of these products, for example, it requires all tobacco products to be placed behind or below the counter and displays should be locked in a cabinet or drawer with access given to employees only.
While smoking has decreased greatly in Hawaii, use of e-cigarettes is on the rise. 22% of high school students have tried e-cigarettes, compared with only 5% in 2011, according to the same release.
The act is an effort to reverse this trend by making e-cigarettes less accessible and less attractive, said Lola Irvin, Administrator for the Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Division, according to a report from the 12NewsNow.
“Prevention is the best strategy, and youth are especially vulnerable to nicotine addiction,” Irvin said in the release. “By prohibiting their use in public places, the new laws encourage a no-smoking norm.”