Governor David Ige has signed a bill on Friday through which Hawaii raises the legal smoking age to 21, thus making it the first US state to do so.
The new law will become active as of January 1st 2016 and it will prohibit people under the age of 21 to smoke, buy, sell and have tobacco based products. This includes regular cigarettes and e-cigarettes as well, making the extent of the law reach new limits in the fight against smoking.
Governor David Ige has also signed a bill that will ban smoking both regular cigarettes and e-cigarettes on public grounds such as parks and beaches. By making these leisure locations smoke free, the state hopes to promote a better and healthier image for the American youth.
“Raising the minimum age as part of our comprehensive tobacco control efforts will help reduce tobacco use among our youth and increase the likelihood that our keiki (children) will grow up to be tobacco-free,”, said Governor David Ige.
The foundation of this law is constituted of scientific research that points out that smoking rates could be reduced drastically by raising the legal smoking age to 21. One of the main reasons for this fact is that people under 21 are much more prone to take up smoking due to peer pressure and the desire to fit into certain groups, but after this age they have a much clearer image regarding who they are and what they want to do with themselves.
While this lays a fairly strong foundation for the smoking law, it also fuels great opposition, because of the great discrepancy between the new legal smoking age and the legal age when people are allowed to enroll in the army.
People are taking issue with the fact that is perfectly legal for somebody as young as 17 to enroll in the military, as long as parental consent is proven, or 18, without any kind of restriction, but something that poses a far less imminent threat like smoking is illegal until the age of 21.
Furthermore, the concept of adulthood is taken into two very different directions in these two situations. One one hand, 18-year-olds are not considered to be enough of an adult to make their own decision regarding smoking. But on the other hand, that same people are considered stable and mature enough to protect their country, and even make the decide if they are willing to die for their country or not, if the situation demands it.
However, it appears that setting aside this discrepancy regarding adulthood, the US state of Hawaii is taking a stand on smoking and is making sure that its young adults are safer and healthier on the long run. Hawaii is the first state to impose such a significant rise in the legal smoking age and it hopes to set a positive example for the rest of the country.
Image Source: healthactionpartnership.org