Tobacco for Later: Legal Smoking Age Raised to 21 in Hawaii
The legal age for smoking tobacco in Hawaii has been raised to 21-years-old Monday and it will take effect Jan. 1, 2016.
Maui Now reported that, in approving the bill, Hawaii becomes the first state in America to raise the age by which tobacco products, as well as e-cigarettes, are accessible. Some 34 percent of smokers in Hawaii are between the ages of 18 to 20-years-old and, from this, 86 percent are believed to have started the habit of smoking tobacco before they turned 21, according to state officials in the report.
The move by the island's legislators hopes to ensure that Hawaiian children would eventually grow up to be free of tobacco. "Raising the minimum age as part of our comprehensive tobacco control efforts will help reduce tobacco use among our youth and increase the likelihood that our keiki will grow up tobacco-free," said Governor David Ige via KOIN.
When the law takes effect, minors or those below 21-years-old will be fined $10 dollar if caught making their first offense and succeeding offenses will require a $50 fine. On the other hand, those who are caught selling tobacco to underage buyers will be asked to pay a $500 fine for the first offense, but succeeding offenses will be fined $2,000.
The Hawaii government posted the legislature on its website and also made a separate measure that restricts the sales of e-cigarette where smoking is already illegal. Both legislatures support a law that was approved in July 2015 that states it is also illegal to be smoking any tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, in parks and beaches.
Following this, some stores in in Hawaii have already started complying even as there's still a few days before the law takes effect. WIVB reported that there are already new signage in some establishments and its operator have been enforcing stricter policies.
"Anyone who looks under the age of 40, we ask for an I.D.," said supermarket cashier Ashley Agag in the report. "People who do not look over 40, they actually have their I.D. ready, so I'm glad they're prepared to show me their I.D. so I don't really have to ask."
In Kapahulu Avenue, an establishment frequented by e-cigarette vapers are also asking its patrons to step outside if they want to use the gadget. "The issue is how it affects people ... so with this law coming into play, we figure, let's just do away with it," said Side Street Inn manager Rob Acoba in the WIVB report.