Hawaii is known for its beautiful beaches, volcanoes, and tropical climate. But it may soon also be known for its strict anti-smoking laws. A bill introduced in the state legislature proposes to raise the legal smoking age from 21 to 100 by 2024. The bill’s sponsor, Representative Richard Creagan, says that smoking is “more lethal, more dangerous than any prescription drug, and it is more addicting.”
The bill would make Hawaii the first state in the nation to effectively ban cigarettes for most of its population. It would not apply to e-cigarettes, cigars, or chewing tobacco. Creagan, who is a physician and a former smoker, says that he wants to protect the health of his constituents and reduce the burden of smoking-related diseases on the state’s health care system. He argues that nicotine is a highly addictive substance that alters the brain chemistry of young people and makes them more susceptible to other addictions.
The bill faces opposition from tobacco companies, retailers, and some civil liberties groups. They claim that the bill infringes on the personal freedom and choice of adults who want to smoke. They also warn that the bill could create a black market for cigarettes and increase crime. Some smokers say that they are aware of the health risks of smoking, but they enjoy it and do not want the government to interfere with their lifestyle.
The bill is currently in committee and has not yet been scheduled for a vote. If it passes, it would make Hawaii a pioneer in tobacco control and a model for other states that want to curb smoking. However, it would also raise legal and ethical questions about the role of the state in regulating personal behavior and the rights of smokers.