Politics

Hawaii Raises Smoking Age To 21

| by Sean Kelly

Hawaii became the first state to raise the legal smoking age from 18 to 21 years old.

The new law states that consumers are required to be at least 21 years old in order to buy tobacco — including electronic cigarettes and smoking devices. The law went into effect on Jan. 1, but there is a three month grace period in which officials plan to educate the public on its new policy.

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“We are proud to once again be at the forefront of the nation in tobacco prevention and control,” Virginia Pressler, Hawaii's health director, said, according to the Science Times.

Anyone under the age of 21 who is caught smoking will be $10 for the first offense and $50 or community service for any subsequent offenses. Businesses that are caught selling cigarettes and other tobacco products to anyone under 21 years of age could be charged between $500 and $2,000.

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The law was met with support from military bases throughout Hawaii, who stated that they would comply with the restrictions.

“We see it as a fitness and readiness issue,” Navy Region Hawaii spokesman Bill Doughty said, according to the Associated Press. “When we can prevent sailors from smoking or using tobacco, if we can get them to quit, then that improves their fitness and readiness, and it saves them a ton of money too."

The enactment was also met with criticism, however — with many saying that if a person is old enough to enroll in the military and put their life on the line, they should be allowed to make their own decisions regarding smoking.

“If you can serve the country, you should be able to have a drink and a cigarette,” Army X-ray technician Justin Warren, 22, said. 

Sources: AP via The Denver Post, Science Times / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons (2)