Hawaii could mark another first in the nation by increasing the minimum age to 25 to purchase tobacco and electronic smoking devices.
Nearly four years after the Aloha State banned the sale of such items to those under 21, expanding statewide a law passed in 2014 by the Hawaii County Council that did just that on the Big Island, Rep. Richard Creagan (D-Kona, Ka‘u) is looking to up the age again.
House Bill 2507, co-introduced by Creagan and Rep. John Mizuno, an Oahu Democrat and chairman of the House Committee on Health, would make it illegal to purchase the products by anyone younger than 25.
The proposal cites the harmful effect of nicotine on developing brains, particularly youth and young adults and unborn children, as well as a study by the Institute of Medicine that found raising the minimum purchase age led to decreases in smoking prevalence and mortality.
“The Institute of Medicine noted that increasing the age of purchase of cigarettes to 21 years would reduce the adult smoking prevalence by 12%, and an increase to 25 years, as HB 2507 proposes, would decrease prevalence by 16%, as well as reduce tobacco use by those age 13 to 17 years,” Creagan told the House Committee on Health on Tuesday.
Creagan said the brains of young people, particularly men, continue to develop until at least age 25 and are negatively affected by nicotine, which he called a “potent neurotoxin.” Further, many women have children before age 25, and nicotine is capable of causing similar brain damage to babies as the pesticide chlorpyrifos, which is banned in Hawaii.