Hawaii will become first state to raise legal age for tobacco, e-cigs to 21

(KHON) — On January 1, 2016, new tobacco laws will prohibit anyone under 21 years of age from buying tobacco and e-cigarette products in Hawaii.

Hawaii is the first state in the nation to raise the minimum age to 21 (Act 122).

A second measure restricts the use of e-cigarettes in all locations where smoking is illegal (Act 019).

“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 Ige in June.

The legislature said that according to recent figures from six Hawaii high schools, among the ninth and tenth grade students, 29 percent have used e-cigarettes at least once and 18 percent use them regularly.

In Hawaii, 86 percent of current adult smokers began smoking before 21 years of age; of these, 34 percent started smoking between 18-20 years old, state officials say.

Those under 21 caught buying or using tobacco would be fined $10 for the first offense, and $50 for repeat offenses. Those caught selling to underage buyers would be fined $500 for the first offense, and up to $2,000 for subsequent offenses.

The new law also requires signs posted where tobacco products are sold that say the following:

“The sale of tobacco products or electronic smoking devices to persons under twenty-one is prohibited.”

Earlier this year, Ige signed HB525 into law (Act 123), which prohibits smoking and the use of tobacco products and electronic smoking devices in all state parks and beaches. That law went into effect on July 1, 2015.

The Department of the Navy announced that they will enact a policy that complies with the new Hawaii state law, and that all shore-based Navy and Marine Corps Exchanges in Hawaii will cease the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21, effective January 1, 2016.

However, the Navy does note that Hawaii state law does not apply to personnel or transactions while aboard U.S. naval vessels due to federal jurisdiction laws.

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