HONOLULU – Hawaii could become the first U.S. state to ban the sale of cigarettes inside the state, if a current proposal becomes law.
Adults younger than age 30 could be legally prohibited from buying cigarettes in less than a year’s time. And all cigarette sales across the state would be banned within five years under a bill by Hawaii State Rep. Richard Cregan.
“We’re taxing them, that did decrease use somewhat, but we still have 140,000 people in our state that smoke cigarettes,” Cregan told Honolulu station KHON2. You don’t see them as much anymore, because we kind of made them hide. But, they’re going to die, half of them are going to die if they keep smoking, and we can prevent that.”
Cregan is a retired emergency room physician who saw the toll that cigarettes took on his patients during his work career. But he believes he can save more lives with his legislation.
One problem could be that Hawaii benefits from about $110 million in annual cigarette-tax revenue.
But having a total ban on cigarettes could make the state even more attractive for potential tourists, he told the station.
“Our beaches will be free of cigarette butts, our parks, all of that. Kids won’t be exposed,” he said. “You won’t have to worry about your baby or your dog chewing on a cigarette butt, I mean, we’ll be the first state to be cigarette-free and I think that’s really cool.”
The state already was the first to raise its legal smoking age to 21. And with this proposed ban, Cregan believes the station would become even a better place to live.