Hawaii is Considering a Creative Cigarette Ban
Lawmakers in Hawaii will contemplate a cigarette ban that would work through banning cigarette sales to anyone under age 100.
Want to stop smoking once and for all? A cigarette ban could do it…but in Hawaii, they’ve come up with a unique way to get there.
If House Bill 1509 ends up becoming law, the Aloha State would raise the legal age at which a person can buy tobacco products.
For starters, the bill paints a dire picture of the cigarette itself.
“The legislature finds that the cigarette is considered the deadliest artifact in human history,” the bill begins. It goes on to describe the cigarette as “unreasonably dangerous” and says it kills half of its long-term users. It also accuses the tobacco industry of manipulated the design of cigarettes to make them even more addictive than they already are.
The bill claims smoking has killed 100 million people in the 20th century and is likely to kill 1 billion in the 21st.
“In Hawaii, cigarettes have caused more preventable disease, death, and disability than any other health issue, each year claiming the lives of more than one thousand four hundred adults and contributing to more than twenty thousand premature deaths of minors,” the bill states.
Here’s where it gets amusing.
The bill will gradually raise the minimum age to purchase cigarettes, “but not other tobacco products or electronic smoking devices, over a period of five years.”
And it raises that age quickly.
If the bill becomes law, no one under 30 will be able to buy cigarettes after January 1, 2020. A year-and-a-half later, on July 1, 2021, no one under 40 will be allowed to buy cigarettes.
One year later, on July 1, 2022, the minimum age jumps another 10 years to 50.
If you’re under 60, you’ll be out of luck on July 1, 2023.
We’re then reminded of a line from an old Bugs Bunny cartoon: “Watch that last step! It’s a lulu!”
That last step comes on July 1, 2024, when the minimum age at which you can legally buy cigarettes jumps 40 years to 100. How many 100-year-olds could people find to buy cigarettes for them?
Hawaii increased its minimum age for buying cigarettes to 21 in 2016, and a few states followed. In my state of South Carolina, the legal age is still only 18.
I don’t know that the bill in Hawaii has a real chance of becoming law. But if it does, it’d be interested to see what impact such a change would have on the state’s health over the next decade.
At the very least, it might help people rethink their habit.