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OPINION

Hawaii Raises Smoking Age to 21

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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“The triumph of persuasion over force is a sign of a civilized society.”
– Mark and Jo Ann Skousen, “Persuasion vs. Force” pamphlet

The governor and the legislature of the state of Hawaii could learn a thing or two from the views my wife Jo Ann and I shared in our pamphlet, “Persuasion vs Force.” Read it here.

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Last week, Hawaii became the first state to raise the smoking age to 21. Let’s see, now, you can vote and go to war for your country but you can’t pick up a cigarette? What’s going wrong in this country when we cannot trust young adults to choose for themselves whether to smoke or not?

The law would prevent adolescents from smoking, buying or possessing both traditional and electronic cigarettes. Those caught breaking the rules would be fined $10 for the first offense. Subsequent offenses would lead to a $50 fine or mandatory community service.

“It’s definitely groundbreaking legislation,” said Jessica Yamauchi, executive director of the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Hawaii, which pushed for the bill. “It’s amazing to be the first state in something. That’s very exciting for us.”

Some local governments have similar bans, including Hawaii County and New York City (not surprising).

According to the state’s Department of Health, 5,600 kids in Hawaii try smoking each year, and 90 percent of daily smokers begin the habit before age 19. Meanwhile, 1,200 people die from tobacco use or exposure in Hawaii every year.

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Opponents say it’s unfair that a military veteran returning from service could be prevented from smoking.

“It is not right because you are deemed an adult when you turn 18,” said Michelle Johnston, owner of Sub Ohm Vapes in Kailua-Kona.

“You can sign up and be in the military and basically give your life for your country. You can vote,” she said. “Why shouldn’t you be able to choose if you want to buy tobacco products or vaping products, when you’re considered a legal adult?”

Good question.

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