Hawaii County Raises Tobacco Sale Age to 21


Last week Billy Kenoi, the mayor of Hawaii, signed a Bill 135 that increases the tobacco sale age to 21, that comes into action from July 1, 2014.  Thus Hawaii County will join three other counties in the USA (two Massachusetts towns and New York City) to ban tobacco sales to young people under 21 when the law goes into effect.

The bill was introduced in October by Kona Councilman Dru Kanuha. The ceremonial signing took place at the West Hawaii Civic Center in North Kona. There were prezented many people including students from Kealakehe High School who pushed for the legislation.

Before signing the bill Kenoi told that it demonstrated courage, vision, commitment, especially collaborative commitment to our kids and our future. This is an extremely important law because it speaks to human health and quality of life of our kids and, last but not least, it speaks to our priorities.

He said that since the bill passed the County Council, he has been approached by people who wanted to discuss whether or not he would sign it into law.  He was steady in his decision. “I said ‘Yes, I will sign Bill 135’. There were too many people who expressed their strong desire for passing this law. Generally speaking, Kenoi had no reason not to sign it.

The Hawaii County Council on Nov. ember 20 unanimously voted in favor of the law. According to said Emily Gambing, a Kealakehe High School freshman who was presented at the event, it is a good beginning of something new and it is going to build a better future for all people in Hawaii. It is expected that Bill 135 will move towards a healthier and better Hawaii.

The new law penalizes shops for selling tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars and electronic cigarettes to young people. First offense would cost retailers $500,  and subsequent offenses would raise too $2,000.

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