Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed a bill Friday that will make Hawaii the first state in the nation to ban smoking for anyone under the age of 21 once it goes into effect Jan. 1, 2016.
Senate Bill 1030 prohibits people under the age of 21 from buying, possessing or consuming tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. The measure also bans businesses from selling the products to people under the age of 21.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige, flanked by state lawmakers, signs a bill to raise the legal smoking age to 21 on Jan. 1, 2016.
Anita Hofschneider/Civil Beat
Businesses that violate the smoking ban will be fined $500 for the first offense and up to $2,000 for additional offenses. People under the age of 21 convicted of breaking the law will be fined $10 for the first offense and $50 for subsequent offenses unless the person performs at least 48 hours of community service.
Ige said at Friday’s press conference that the new laws further the state’s commitment to good health policy.
“I do believe that taking these actions here today will only strengthen and lengthen the opportunities for our citizens to lead healthy and fulfilling lives,” he said.
He credited Hawaii County Council member Dru Kanuha for successfully advocating to raise the smoking age on the Big Island to 21.
According to data from the governor’s office, 86 percent of adult smokers in Hawaii started the habit before age 21 and more than a third of those started while in the age range of 18-20.
Hawaii has the third-lowest smoking rate in the nation at 13 percent, down from nearly 20 percent in 2000. Smoking among kids has also dropped from 28 percent in 1999 to 10 percent in 2013, according to the governor’s office.
Most states have a minimum smoking age of 18. Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey and Utah have raised it to 19.
Ige also signed a bill to ban smoking in state parks and beaches. Every Hawaii county except for Kauai already bans smoking in parks. That law will also take effect Jan. 1.
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