Hawaii first state to raise smoking age to 21

Hawaii raises minimum age for purchasing tobacco products to 21, and also adds new regulations for e-cigarette users
By Jason Spencer | Jan 04, 2016
Hawaii is the first of U.S. states to greet the new year with a new law concerning smoking. Science Times reports that the Aloha state raised it's consumer law from 18 to 21, effective January 1.

"We are proud to once again be at the forefront of the nation in tobacco prevention and control," said Hawaii's state health director Virginia Pressler.

This new law applies to e-cigarettes as well. And anyone caught selling tobacco products to adolescents under the age of 21 could face a hefty fine ranging from $500-$2,000. Underage consumers aren't off the hook either if they get caught; a $10-$50 fine plus community service would be dished out to smoking adolescents.

While there will be a 3 month grace period where warnings will be given out rather than fines, retailers across the state have already started to enforce the new law. Signs are going up in windows, letting residents and tourists know there won't be much leeway even with the grace period.

"Anyone who looks under the age of 40, we ask for an I.D.," said Ashley Agag, a cashier at Times Supermarket, to WIAT 42.

Along with the age increase comes new regulations on e-cigarettes. Prior to the new law, smoking e-cigarettes in places that were designated as no smoking was allowed. That will change come Friday.

E-cig user Alex Wirkus didn't seem bothered by the new regulations.

"I think it's a pretty good idea, seeing as how it does kind of disrupt the air that you breathe," said Wirkus.

While the minimum age for legal tobacco purchase has already increased in cities such as New York and Boston, Hawaii is the first state to pass this law.

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