Across the 132 islands that make up Hawaii, there are approximately 1.4 million people. And of those 1.4 million people, about 150,000 are smokers. That, according to the state legislature, is 150,000 too many. In order to do something about that, one legislator has proposed a new law that would outlaw the sale of cigarettes to anyone under the age of 100.
Representative Rich Cregan, who proposed the bill, told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, “Basically, we essentially have a group who are heavily addicted — in my view, enslaved by a ridiculously bad industry — which has enslaved them by designing a cigarette that is highly addictive, knowing that it’s highly lethal. And, it is.”
The bill, in part, reads, “In Hawaii, cigarettes have caused more preventable disease, death, and disability than any other health issue, each year claiming the lives of more than one thousand four hundred adults and contributing to more than twenty thousand premature deaths of minors.”
Cregan, who is also a physician, asserts that the higher purchasing age has curbed tobacco usage, but not enough. And research shows that most tobacco addictions start young: according to the American Cancer Society, almost 90 percent of cigarette smokers start before they’re 18-years-old.
Hawaii already has some of the strictest cigarette laws on the books, and they’re one of six states which have raised the minimum purchase age for tobacco (including e-cigarettes) to 21-years-old. If the bill passes, the ban will go into effect gradually: the minimum age will increase to 30-years-old in 2020, 40-years-old in 2021, 50-years-old in 2022, 60-years-old in 2023, and finally, by 2024, the legal age for purchase will jump to 100-years-old. Tourists will still be able to bring cigarettes with them. This ban will not include e-cigarettes, cigars, or chewing tobacco in order to make the bill legally sound.
And while 100 years may sound, like, way too old, Hawaii is home to the highest concentration of centenarians in the U.S., so perhaps after 2024, you’ll have a bunch of 80-year-olds asking their cool older friends to shuffle on down to the corner store and buy them some smokes.