Hawaii to Be First State in US to Ban Sale of Cigarettes to those below 21

Hawaii to Be First State in US to Ban Sale of Cigarettes to those below 21

Hawaii state lawmakers on Friday passed a bill which would makes it the first in the United States to prohibit the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products to people under 21.

Presently the minimum legal age for smoking or using tobacco products is 18. The new bill will now go before Gov. David Ige, whose signature would make it law in Hawaii as of January 1, 2016.

So far 46 US states permit the sale of tobacco to anyone who is below the age of 18. On the other hand Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey and Utah have a legal age of smoking as 19.

Several dozens of cities and towns, including New York, have already risen the minimum legal age for tobacco purchases to 21.

Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said this is clearly a strict action that has been taken to reduce smoking among young people, and save their lives and help the next generation to be tobacco-free.

“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.

Until Monday it was still unclear whether Ige would sign the bill. A spokeswoman for the governor told CNN in an email that he would need some more time to review the bill.

The state legislation for smoking came after a report released in last month from the Institute of Medicine that said restricting the youngsters below the age of 21 from buying cigarettes can have some significant public health benefits.

It showed that setting the minimum legal age for smoking at 21 nationwide would result in nearly a quarter-million fewer premature deaths.

It would also lessen nearly 50,000 deaths caused due to from lung cancer among people born between 2000 and 2019, the report estimated.