Hawaii has become the first U.S. state to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21. The bill’s aim is to reduce total young smokers in the state, where 86 percent of its adult smokers say they started the habit as teenagers.
A primary driver of the age change is electronic cigarettes. University of Hawaii researchers discovered that 30 percent of 14- to 16-year-olds have experimented with e-cigarettes. The fear is that their recent trendiness will only make it easier to snag Hawaiian youths who otherwise wouldn’t have been captivated by traditional tobacco products.
“Raising the minimum age as part of our comprehensive tobacco control efforts will help reduce tobacco use among our youth and increase the likelihood that our keiki [children] will grow up tobacco-free,” said Governor David Ige.
The age change will go into effect next year, with a $10 fine for a first offense and $50 each time afterward. Several other states, such as California, New Jersey, and Washington have considered similar action.