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Legislation introduced by Democratic State Rep. Richard Creegan, a retired emergency room physician, aims to effectively ban cigarettes by gradually raising the smoking age over the coming years. His plan would raise the statewide minimum age to 30 in 2020, 40 in 2021, 50 in 2022, 60 in 2023 and 100 in 2024.
The lawmaker told The Hawaii Tribune that current efforts don’t go far enough to stop the smoking problem.
“We essentially have a group who are heavily addicted — in my view, enslaved by a ridiculously bad industry — which has enslaved them by designing a cigarette that is highly addictive, knowing that it is highly lethal,” Creegan said. “If we don’t ban cigarettes, we are killing people.”
As it currently stands in Hawaii, a resident must be 21 to purchase cigarettes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 37.8 million Americans smoked cigarettes as of 2016.
The measure, which is expected to be brought before a committee next week, would not affect e-cigarettes, cigars or chewing tobacco.
The Food and Drug Administration recently pledged to crack down on menthol cigarettes, in addition to flavored cigars and e-cigarettes.