Hawaii welcomes New Year's day with new tobacco law; Becomes 1st state to raise smoking age to 21
Jan 04, 2016 04:27 AM EST
Hawaii welcomes a new law on New Year's Day. It is raising the legal smoking age from 18 to 21 years old for electronic and traditional cigarettes. Hawaii also introduced new regulations which now consider e-cigarettes equivalent to that of a regular cigarettes.
On January 1, the new regulation bans those under 21 years old from buying electronic cigarettes and other tobacco products. Hawaii is said to be the first state in the US to raise the smoking age so high. Back in June, Governor David Ige signed a regulation that aims to prevent adolescents from buying, possessing, and smoking both electronic and traditional cigarettes.
The local public health officials are positive that this new law will make it more difficult for young teenagers to buy cigarettes and they are hoping to reduce the number of young people from developing unhealthy addiction. Lola Irvin, administrator of Hawaii Department of Health with the chronic disease prevention and health promotion division said, that about 4 students in high school try their first cigarette each year, and that 1 out of 3 get addicted dies prematurely.
It is said that in the US, that 95% of adult smokers started smoking cigarettes before the age of 21. While it is true that indeed the rate of smokers have drastically decreased among Hawaii's adults and youth, there has been a recent rapid increase in e-cigarette usage. Reports in 2011 said that only 5% of Hawaii public high school students had tried e-cigarettes, compared to 22% in 2014. The statistics then tells that there has been a 344% increase in rate.
According to health officials, the increase in the number of young students trying e-cigarettes is very alarming. The numbers have quadrupled over four years in Hawaii public high school students. Meanwhile, there's a sixfold increase over four years among middle-schoolers, as 12% of them were reported to have tried e-cigarettes as well.
Any person who will be caught by the police officials trying to buy tobacco products could be fined $10 for the first offense. Shops who are also caught selling cigarettes to those under 21 years old will face bigger amount of penalty, which is $500 fine for the first offense. Fines will also increase as the number of violations multiply.
The Health Department has already distributed about 4,000 signs to 650 vendors. Hawaii is hoping to see a lot more states applying the same law, so that more people will be saved from such unhealthy practice.