A Hawaii lawmaker has proposed a bill that would gradually raise the minimum smoking age to 100, which could effectively make Hawaii the first state to outlaw the sale of cigarettes.
“The state is obliged to protect the public’s health,” State House member Rep. Richard Creagan told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald.
“We, as legislators, have a duty to do things to save people’s lives,” he said. “If we don’t ban cigarettes, we are killing people.”
The state’s House Health Committee is expected to hear the measure this week. The bill seeks to incrementally raise the age to legally purchase cigarettes each year, hiking it to 30 in 2020, 40 in 2021, 50 in 2022, 60 in 2023 and 100 in 2024. The minimum smoking age is currently 21.
“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 highly lethal,” said Creagan, who is also a doctor. “And, it is.”
The law would not apply to electronic cigarettes, chewing tobacco or cigars.
“We don’t allow people free access to opioids, for instance, or any prescription drugs,” said Creagan. “This is more lethal, more dangerous than any prescription drug, and it is more addicting. In my view, you are taking people who are enslaved from a horrific addiction, and freeing people from horrific enslavement.”