Lawmakers in Hawaii have proposed legislation that would start to phase out cigarettes in the state and ban them completely in the coming years.
At least, for people younger than 100.
The dual law, HB1509, aims to increase the legal minimum age to use cigarettes to exclude anyone except centenarians in 2024 to "keep people healthy and alive in the state of Aloha," rep. Cynthia Thielen, R, one of the sponsors of the Bill, said Tuesday afternoon in a telephone interview with The Washington Post.
"I know it can be a difficult road", Thielen added, "but you have to take that first, strong step – and that's what we do."
In recent years, Hawaii was at the forefront of the tobacco debate, increased taxes and regulations and became the first state in the nation to ban smoking for people under the age of 21.
But Thielen, the state's representative, said that previous legislation has simply "argued for different parts of the problem."
The proposed law, which was introduced late last month, "touches the core of it and prohibits smoking in our state," she said.
According to HB1509, cigarettes are "considered the most deadly artifact in human history" and cause "more preventable disease, death and disability than any other health problem" in the state.
The bill aims to increase the legal minimum age for buying or owning cigarettes up to 30 years next year; 40 to 2021; 50 by 2022; 60 by 2023 and 100 by 2024. The timetable would allow the state to plan a loss in cigarette tax revenue, according to reports. The bill does not apply to cigars, chewing tobacco or e-cigarettes.
State Representative Richard Creagan, co-sponsor of the bill, told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald that he does not think the state is going too far.
"Actually, we basically have a group that is heavily addicted – in my opinion, addicted to a ridiculously bad industry – who enslaved them by designing a cigarette that is highly addictive, knowing it is very deadly. it, "he told the exhaust.
Creagan, a doctor, added that the state must "protect the health of the public".
"This is more deadly, more dangerous than any medicine, and it is addictive," Creagan told the newspaper, referring to cigarettes. "In my opinion, you bring people who are addicted to a gruesome addiction and free people from gruesome slavery.We as legislators have the duty to do things to save lives.If we do not ban cigarettes, we kill people. ;
Creagan and the third sponsor of the bill, State Rep. John Mizuno, D, could not be reached for comment from The Washington Post.
Cigarettes are the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, causing more than 480,000 deaths annually across the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC states that cigarette smoking is linked to 90 percent of all deaths from lung cancer and 80 percent of all deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
As The Post pointed out earlier, research has shown that most adult smokers admit they started smoking like teenagers – a time when public health advocates say tobacco is particularly harmful. But studies have also shown that smokers who stop between the ages of 35 and 44 can avoid early death.
Thielen, one of the sponsors of the proposed legislation, said that accepting the bill will be "a challenge", but she added that it is the "first push to say:" This is important. We must act accordingly. & # 39; "