Cigarette smokers in Hawaii may be forced to take trips to the mainland to purchase tobacco if a new state bill passes.
The bill aims to curb cigarette smoking in paradise.
"The legislature finds that the cigarette is considered the deadliest artifact in human history," the bill noted. Stating that the vacation island destination "is suffering from its own addiction to cigarettes in the form of the large sums of money that the State receives from state cigarette sales taxes," approximately $100 million annually.
If passed stores would have until 2024 to phase out tobacco products. It would not apply to e-cigarettes or chewing tobacco, or cigars.
Hawaii already has some of the toughest cigarette laws in the U.S. The legal buying age is 21, but the new bill would move that up to 30 next years, then ten year increases each year until the legal buying age becomes 100 in 2024.
Raising the legal purchasing age for tobacco products has shown positive results. While most states still allow purchases at age 18, studies show moving it 21 could significantly reduce cigarette smoking rates. The National Academy of Sciences found that if by age 25 someone hasn't smoked regularly, it's less likely they will become a daily smoker.
"Basically, we essentially have a group who are heavily addicted," Rep. Richard Creagan, an emergency room doctor, told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. "In my view, enslaved by a ridiculously bad industry — which has enslaved them by designing a cigarette that is highly addictive, knowing that it is highly lethal. And, it is."
"Unlike Second Amendment gun rights, the US Constitution does not recognize smoking as a fundamental right," CNN reports. "In 2012, a federal appeals court upheld a lower court ruling against a smoker who challenged an anti-smoking ordinance in Clayton, Missouri, on grounds that it violated his constitutional rights."
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