Health Highlights: June 22, 2015

Hawaii Raises Legal Smoking Age to 21

HealthDay News

HealthDay News

Updated on June 22, 2015

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Hawaii Raises Legal Smoking Age to 21

Hawaii has become the first state to raise the legal smoking age to 21.

The bill, which was signed into law by Gov. David Ige on Friday, is designed to keep youths and teens from buying or smoking both cigarettes and e-cigarettes, the Associated Press reported.

Eighty-six percent of adult smokers in Hawaii start the unhealthy habit before they reach the age of 21, according to the governor's office.

"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," Gov. David Ige said.

"I think it's going to have a tremendous impact," said Jessica Yamauchi, executive director of the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii. "By really limiting the access it will really help to curb the prevalence."

The bill has its critics, according to the AP.

"I can't stand cigarette smoking. It's disgusting," said Democratic Rep. Angus McKelvey, who voted against the bill. "But to tell somebody you can go and fight for your country and get killed but you can't have a cigarette, that's the thing. You can enter a contract. You're an emancipated adult in the eyes of the Constitution but you can't have a cigarette anymore."

Once the law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2016, , a first offense caries a $10 fine and successive violations can bring a $50 fine or mandatory community service, the AP reported. A second bill was signed Friday that makes Hawaii's state parks and beaches smoke-free.

Several city and county governments in the United States, including New York City, have raised the legal smoking age to 21, the AP reported.

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