Hawaii is poised to become the first state in the nation to increase the legal smoking age to 21. In a move that indicates this has absolutely nothing to do with public health, the bill passed by the legislature on Friday also prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from purchasing tobacco-free electronic cigarettes.
While some localities, like New York City, have raised the legal smoking age to 21, if Gov. David Ige signs this law, Hawaii will become the first state to impose a statewide ban on young adult access to legal cigarettes. The law would go into effect January 1, 2016.
An example of an absurd claim regarding cigarette advertising came from Sen. Rosalyn Baker, who introduced the bill. “While the industry is not allowed to directly market to children, it is still developing packaging and advertising products in ways that appeal to children.”
No offense to the producers of Marlboro, but these are among the most boring and unappealing packaging designs imaginable:
Regarding e-cigarettes, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently weighing a new set of deeming regulations regarding advertising and sales. Hawaii should defer to the FDA for guidance on this regulatory framework.
At least one opponent of the legislation, Democratic Sen. Gil Riviere had some common sense insight: “You can sign contracts, you can get married, you can go to war and lose an arm or lose an eye… you come back and you’re 20 years old and you can’t have a s cigarette.”
The logic behind legislation saying “cigarettes are disgusting and should be banned” might as well apply to all adults, Riviere’s thinking goes (sarcastically).
The Nanny State is out of control.
Think about this. Beyond being able to serve in the military – putting your life at risk in many cases in the course of war for your country, in Hawaii, the legal age of consent is 16. There is a “close in age exception” that allows kids, yes children, who are 14 years old to also legally have sex with anyone who is less than 5 years older than they are. Hawaii has clearly concluded that middle schoolers have enough maturity and cognitive development to consent to sex with high school graduates, but not enough to think about the impact of cigarette use.
Think what you will about age of consent laws but compare the double standard for permitting two different personal choices, both of which may have significant life-long consequences.
Hawaii’s rationale seems to be that what you do in your own bedroom is your call, unless it includes the use of tobacco and e-cigarettes. In the latter cases, the government must save you from yourself.
Give me a break.