Hawaii has become the first U.S state to raise the legal smoking age. On Friday Hawaii’s governor passed a bill raising the legal age limit for smoking to 21. This law will become effective from start of the New Year – 1st Jan 2016 – including banning the sale, purchase or use of electronic cigarettes for those under the age limit.
Governor David Ige is hopeful that raising the age limit will help reduce tobacco use in the youth and increase the chances of children growing up in a tobacco free environment.
Governor Ige signed another bill on Friday related to tobacco. That bill banned smoking and e-cigarette use at all state parks and beaches. According to his office these acts are already banned in all city and country parks other than of Kauai’s County.
The common age for legal smoking is 18 in most U.S states, while a few have set it a little higher at 19, While New York City and Hawaii have raised it to 21.
Lawmakers in Washington State and California are also hopeful of getting the legal smoking age limit raised to 21 in the upcoming months.
People have objected to the bill stating that at 21 a person is considered an adult, and it limits the choice for them, in other situations, like joining the military.
In the U.S smoking is the leading preventable cause of death, 480,000 deaths occur annually, or one of every five deaths are because of smoking. Statistics provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to research raising the minimum age to buy tobacco to 21 or 25 years of age will result in a huge drop in tobacco related illnesses and also a majority of U.S adults support the bill.
Governor’s office has provided information that 9 out 10 smokers in Hawaii have started off before the age of 21 and have received cigarettes from friends and relatives of legal age. The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids states that 1400 people die due to tobacco use and $526 million in medical bills are encountered annually in Hawaii, also because of tobacco.
The positive side is that there has been a sharp decrease of adult smoking rates in the country, dropping from 42% to 18%.