Hawaii started the new year with a new law, raising the legal smoking age to 21, a law which includes electronic cigarettes. Acoording to the Hawaii State Department of Public Health most smokers start before the age of 21, so the law is hoping to stop the deadly habit before it starts. Smokers under 21 who are caught will be fined $10 for the first offense and $50 for each offense after that. Businesses that are caught selling to minors will be charged $500 for the first offense and $2,000 every time after that.
“Prevention is the best strategy, and youth are especially vulnerable to nicotine addiction. By prohibiting their use in public places, the new laws encourage a no-smoking norm,” said Lola Irvin, Administrator for the Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Division in a release by the Hawaii State Department of Public Health.
While Hawaii is currently the only state with a state-wide 21 and under ban on smoking, 107 U.S. cities in nine states (not including Hawaii) have the same law, according to Tobacco21.org, including New York City. The effects have been tremendous: Needham, Massachusetts found a 50 percent drop in high school smoking since putting the law in place. Its success puts Massachusetts in the prime spot to be one of the next states that could ban 21 and under smoking in 2016.
New York and California are two states that could also follow suit. Both states already have city laws in place and supporters are actively pushing to take it to the state level. New Jersey and Pennsylvania are also rumored to be next. Bills have been proposed in both states and are awaiting voting.
People who are against the bill being passed point to the amount of money states would lose from taxes. New Jersey, for example, would lose a calculated $19 million each year according to a legislative fiscal estimate released by the state. Washington, Colorado, New Jersey and Utah have all tried to put the statewide law in place in the past, but the bills have failed to pass.
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