In victory for anti-vaping advocates, Hawaii is on the verge of banning flavored vape products
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After more than seven years of the trying, the state is on the verge of banning flavored vaping products.
But vape shop operators say the ban will put hundreds of small retailers out of business.
House Bill 1570 will prohibit the sale of all flavored vaping products and establishes fines of people who sell them.
Similar bills have been introduced over the years, but have stalled.
Vape shop operators say this is the furthest the proposal has ever gotten in the Legislature.
“We have hundreds of business that are going to be affected by this flavor ban. This is thousands of jobs were talking about, millions of dollars in sales tax revenue,” said Scott Rasak of Volcano Fine Electronic Cigarettes.
Some consumers say banning flavored vaping products won’t make her quit tobacco and will likely force them back to smoking cigarettes.
“If we were to get rid of it, I would definitely smoke a cigarettes again,” said Kuuipo Gilman, of Waianae.
The ban aims to address the problem of underage vaping, which experts say has been on the rise in Hawaii.
“In Hawaii, about half of our high school students have tried e-cigarettes. And about a third of them in middle school said they have tried it,” said Lola Irvin, administrator for the State Health Department’s Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Division.
Vaping products can only be sold to adults 21 and older but the Health Department believes they’re readily available to underage kids and that the flavored products are especially enticing to the young.
Retailers say that instead of banning them, the state should do a better job of enforcing and restricting sales to children and teens.
But health leaders said that’s not enough.
“We hope that it is not going to be a question between revenues and the health of our children. In Hawaii we will take care of the health of our children first and that’s our priority,” said Irvin.
The bill will now go to a House-Senate conference committee.
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