The state announced Tuesday that there will be a brief educational grace period after the new smoking law goes into effect Friday, Jan. 1.
Hawaii is raising the minimum age from 18 to 21 to buy any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes.
According to state health department director Dr. Virginia Pressler, raising the minimum age is a victory because 95 percent of adult smokers begin smoking before the age of 21.
“Our youth and young adults are adopting products that erode their future,” she said.
“I continue to advocate for these laws because they do affect my generation and future generations,” said student advocate Sabrina Olaes.
Pressler said it will take time for people to get used to the new laws, especially visitors.
“While these laws go into effect on New Year’s Day, the first three months on 2016 will be focused on educating the public on new laws. We don’t want people to fall victim to something they don’t understand, and it’s our law here.”
Signage will be posted at malls, and ads will run in magazines and on the Internet.
But once the three-month grace period ends, enforcement will be strict. Vendors caught selling to people under 21 will be fined $500 for the first offense, and up to $2,000 for multiple offenses.
Anyone under 21 who tries to purchase tobacco products or e-cigarettes can be fined up to $50 after multiple offenses or do up to 72 hours of community service.
Earlier this year, Ige signed HB525 into law (Act 123), which prohibits smoking and the use of tobacco products and electronic smoking devices in all state parks and beaches. That law went into effect on July 1, 2015.
“Additionally, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, as a matter of policy to comply with the Hawaii state law, has directed all Defense commissaries and exchanges located on places subject to concurrent jurisdiction in Hawaii not to sell or furnish tobacco products, including electronic smoking devices and smokeless tobacco, to persons under the age of 21, effective Jan. 1, 2016.” – U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii
All shore-based Navy and Marine Corps Exchanges in Hawaii will cease the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21. This will also affect Coast Guard personnel, who also shop at these exchanges.
The Navy, however, does note that Hawaii state law does not apply to personnel or transactions while aboard U.S. naval vessels due to federal jurisdiction laws.