Hawaii’s legal smoking age is to be raised to 21 to prohibit the sale of tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes to persons who are below 21 years old, according to a recent report by CNN. Once this bill becomes a law, Hawaii will have the unique status of being the first state to prohibit use or sale of tobacco to people under 21. The bill will become a law with the signature of the Governor of Hawaii, David Ige, on 1 January 2016.
Presently, 46 states allow tobacco to be sold to persons aged 18 and above, while it is 19 in Alaska, New Jersey and Utah. There are however, a few cities and towns, New York included, where the minimum age for buying and using tobacco is already set at 21.
Raising the legal smoking age has long been a hot topic of debate, which came to a head recently with a Institute of Medicine report last month by the Institute of Medicine, which recommended that there could be some far-reaching public health benefits if the legal age for buying cigarettes was raised to 21. According to the institute, raising the legal age to 21 could reduce premature deaths to almost a quarter-million, and the number of deaths caused by lung cancer could get reduced by 50,000 among the age group of people born between the years 2000 and 2019.
The whole idea behind increasing the smoking age is that it is estimated that teenagers between ages 15 and 17 are most liable to get addicted to tobacco, and the majority of smokers who were interviewed in a recent survey admitted that they became smokers before 18. Since tobacco and alcohol usage go hand-in-hand, the next logical step would be to increase the legal age for tobacco usage to be aligned with the minimum age for alcohol usage which now stands at 21.
Once the bill becomes law, offenders would be looking at a $10.00 fine at the first instance and a $50.00 fine or community service, the second time.