Hawaii Now Has Toughest Smoking Law in the US

It raises legal age to 21, first state to do so
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 20, 2015 9:54 AM CDT
Hawaii Now Has Toughest Smoking Law in the US
These are legally off limits to anyone younger than 21 in Hawaii.   (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Hawaii's governor has signed a bill to make his state the first to raise the legal smoking age to 21. The measure aims to prevent adolescents from smoking, buying, or possessing both traditional and electronic cigarettes. Gov. David Ige signed it into law yesterday. Dozens of local governments have similar bans, including Hawaii County and New York City. In Hawaii, 86% of adult smokers began smoking before age 21, according to the governor's office. Those caught breaking the rules would be fined $10 for the first offense, and later violations would lead to a $50 fine or mandatory community service.

"I think it's going to have a tremendous impact," said Jessica Yamauchi, executive director of the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii. "By really limiting the access it will really help to curb the prevalence." But not everyone is pleased. "I can't stand cigarette smoking. It's disgusting," said Democratic Rep. Angus McKelvey, who voted against the bill. "But to tell somebody you can go and fight for your country and get killed but you can't have a cigarette, that's the thing." The bill goes into effect on the first day of 2016. (More Hawaii stories.)

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