On Friday, Hawaii’s governor signed a bill to raise the legal smoking age statewide to 21, making them the first state to to raise the smoking age. This law goes into effect Jan. 1 2016 and in addition will also ban the sale, purchase, or use of electronic cigarettes for those under the age of 21.
Along with the age raise, the Governor also signed a bill banning smoking and e-cigarette use at state parks and beaches. These were acts that were already banned in some city and county parks. Most U.S. states have set the legal smoking age to 18 with a few raising the age to 19. New York City and Hawaii County have already raised the smoking age to 21.
Officials in Washington state and California have also tried to push the legal smoking age to 21. Those who resist the bill, argue that it limits the choice for those who are considered adults.
In the state of Hawaii, 9 out of 10 smokers start before the age of 21 and many have reported receiving cigarettes from friends and family of the legal age. The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids said that tobacco use kills approximately 1,400 people and costs $526 million dollars annually in medical bills.
Smoking cigarettes is the leading cause of death that can be preventable in the United States. More than 480,000 deaths occur annually or one in five deaths, due to smoking.