Hawaii's congressional delegation introduces bill to raise smoki - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii's congressional delegation introduces bill to raise smoking age to 21

WASHINGTON D.C. (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Starting January, Hawaii will become the first state in the nation to outlaw smoking for anyone under 21, but members of the state's congressional delegation are pushing to expand the law to the entire country.

U.S. Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono were among eight senators who introduced on Wednesday the Tobacco to 21st Act, a bill that would prohibit the sale or distribution of tobacco products to those under the age of 21.

“We know that the earlier smokers begin their unhealthy addiction to nicotine, the more likely they are to suffer from tobacco-related diseases or die,” Schatz said in a statement.  “This year, Hawaii became the first state in the nation to raise the minimum smoking age to 21."

A recent report by the Institute of Medicine found that raising the legal age to 21 would reduce the number of new tobacco users, decrease smoking frequency by 12 percent and save more than 220,000 lives from smoking-related deaths. In addition, the harder it is for the youth to obtain tobacco products, the less likely they will be to get addicted, supporters of the bill say.

U.S. Rep. Mark Takai and several other lawmakers also introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

In June, Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed a measure that would raise the smoking age from 18 to 2. The law would apply to the entire state. 

"It was an historic public health achievement that we should adopt nationwide," Schatz said. "By raising the minimum tobacco age of sale to 21 across the country, we can cut the number of new smokers each year; build a healthier, tobacco-free America; and save lives.”

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