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Bill That Sought 100 Year Old Purchase Age for Cigarettes Dies in Legislature

February 9, 2019, 6:54 AM HST · Updated February 10, 12:04 PM
Wendy Osher · 56 Comments
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Cigarettes. Photo by Wendy Osher.

A House bill that sought to raise the legal age for purchasing cigarettes to 100 in the year 2024, was held in the House Health Committee, effectively killing the measure for the 2019 session.  Lawmakers voted unanimously to shelve the bill (with one member excused) after hearing testimony on Thursday.

The bill, introduced by Representative Richard P. Creagan of Hawaiʻi Island, sought a progressive ban on the sale of cigarettes by raising the minimum age of individuals to who may legally buy them to: 30 years of age in 2020; 40 years of age in 2021; 50 years of age in 2022; 60 years of age in 2023; and finally, 100 years of age in 2024.

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The state Department of Health submitted written testimony, recommending that any graduated age strategy include other 18 tobacco products, including electronic smoking devices, and that the 19 definitions of Tobacco Products not be amended to exclude cigarettes.

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Also submitting testimony was the Retail Merchants of Hawaiʻi, a not for profit trade organization committed to the growth and development of Hawaiʻi retail industry. Organization president, Tina Yamaki urged lawmakers to hold the measure saying, “Bans are not the simple solution and will not stop adults from smoking – noting that it is already illegal for minors. This type of ban would only push the sale of cigarettes into the black market and make it even more attractive and lucrative for thieves to steal cigarettes.”

On HB 1509 relating to a potential ban on cigarettes Representative John M. Mizuno, Chair of the House Health Committee said, “According to the Department of Health, in Hawaiʻi, 1,400 individuals die of smoking-related causes each year. The annual health costs directly related to by smoking in Hawaiʻi is approximately $526 million. Although an outright smoking ban is too extreme for our State at this time, I believe the discussion on this issue has merit.”

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served nearly 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.

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