Hawaii Owes Its Youth A Tobacco And Nicotine-Free Hawaii - Honolulu Civil Beat

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About the Author

Mitch Roth

Mitch Roth is the mayor of the County of Hawaii.

The Legislature has heard but not yet passed legislation to protect our kids from these harmful products.

As the mayor of Hawaii County, I am dedicated to improving the lives of our residents and safeguarding the future of our keiki.

To this end, I’d like to strongly encourage lawmakers to consider passing Senate Bill 1447, a bill that would allow counties to enact their own regulations on tobacco and e-cigarettes, enabling us to impose stricter measures as they’re needed to protect our keiki and forge more sustainable island homes where everyone can thrive.

The youth vaping epidemic has disproportionately impacted the youth of Hawaii island, with higher rates of youth vaping compared to the statewide average.

According to the 2019 Hawaii Youth Risk Behavior survey, 35.4% of Big Island youth self-reported they regularly use e-cigarettes, compared to 30.6% statewide.

Additionally, Hawaii island middle schoolers are also vaping at concerning rates, with 20.3% admitting to using e-cigarettes regularly, as opposed to 17.7% statewide.

Studies have shown that a staggering 82% of youth who use tobacco started with a flavored product, indicating that tobacco companies intentionally target our keiki with their marketing strategies.

This is concerning as tobacco use has been linked to adverse health implications, such as impaired brain development and several heart and respiratory diseases.

Thus far, the State Legislature has heard but not passed legislation to protect our keiki from the harms of flavored tobacco products.

For instance, House Bill 551, which aimed to ban the sale of all flavored tobacco products and crack down on the mislabeling of e-liquids as nicotine-free, was ultimately deferred.

It is evident that we have a problem here on Hawaii island.

In 2018, the counties’ ability to regulate tobacco sales was taken away through state legislation, and since then, no comprehensive policies on e-cigarettes have become law.

It is evident that we have a problem here on Hawaii island, and, as a county, we are prepared to act. By passing SB 1447, our county can again be given the autonomy to make need-based decisions in real time for our individual residents.

Empowering the counties to act autonomously will convey that we value our keiki. We owe it to our youth to create a healthier, tobacco and nicotine-free Hawaii.

With that, I urge lawmakers to act now and pass SB 1447 to ensure that our counties can take action, as needed, to protect our youth from the addiction and other harms caused by tobacco and e-cigarette products.

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About the Author

Mitch Roth

Mitch Roth is the mayor of the County of Hawaii.

Latest Comments (0)

Our State Legislature has failed AGAIN to protect our keiki from Big Tobacco tactics. Mahalo Mayor Roth for speaking out. We need #homerule.

peacelovejoy · 7 months ago

Wow, one out of five middle schoolers on the big island are using tobacco? 30 years ago, when smoking was even more popular, in junior high I think it might have been one out of 10 or even one out of 15.

Scotty_Poppins · 8 months ago

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