Smokes May Be Illegal Until Age 21 in Aloha State.



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Hawaii’s legislature passed a bill raising the legal age for buying tobacco to 21 from 18. The bill is now before Gov. David Ige, whose signature would make it law. Most states allow tobacco sales to anyone 18 and older. Hawaii is poised to become the first state in the nation to prohibit the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products to anybody under age 21. Forty-six U.S. states permit the sale of tobacco to anyone 18 or older.

It was not clear Monday whether Ige would sign the bill, although on Friday he approved legislation banning the use of e-cigarettes in all locations where smoking is illegal. Barring people under age 21 from buying cigarettes would have amazing public health benefits. Setting the minimum age at 21 nationwide would cause an almost a quarter-million drop in premature deaths and 50,000 fewer deaths from lung cancer among people born between 2000 and 2019, the report estimated. A 2014 survey of Hawaii voters found that 71% approved raising the legal age to smoke to 21.

“This bold step will reduce smoking among young people, save lives and help make the next generation tobacco-free,” said Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, in a prepared statement.

“Increasing the sale age to 21 will reduce tobacco use among youth and young adults, age groups when nearly all smoking begins and that are heavily targeted by the tobacco industry,” he said.

Some might say that the smoking age should not be raised even though it would have great public health benefits. When you reach the age 18 you are now a legal adult so why shouldn’t you dictate whether or not you smoke?

The Core Democratic Values in play for this debate include the following:

Liberty: people have the right to do as they want and live freely as long as they do not cause harm to others.

Responsibility: is it the government’s job to regulate the age and what people do in life?  This product affects the quality of individual’s health but so do many other legal products.  Whose responsibility is it?

Authority: the government is trying to regulate the age in order to limit the number of addicts but will it have any beneficial effect and do they really have the authority to regulate the personal choices of legal adults?  How is age 21 any different from age 18?