Hawaii Eyes First Statewide Flavored Tobacco Ban

tobacco at retail

HONOLULU — State lawmakers are considering a proposal to prohibit the sale of flavored electronic cigarette liquids as well as flavored tobacco, except menthol.

If the measure passes and is signed into law, Hawaii would be the first state to ban flavored e-cigarettes and tobacco. Hawaii was also the first state to raise the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21. The higher age limit went into effect on Jan. 1, 2016, as Convenience Store News previously reported.

The bill before the Hawaii State Legislature is aimed at reducing e-cigarette and vapor use by underage users.

The state House of Representatives Committee on Health removed menthol from the bill because prohibiting the flavor could jeopardize the tax revenue the state brings in from menthol cigarettes. State Rep. John Mizuno (28th District), committee chair, said the state's tax on cigarettes provides $15 million annually to a cancer research center, $8 million to ambulance services, $8 million to community health centers and $8 million to a hospital trauma center, according to The Associated Press.

State Sen. Roz Baker (6th District), chair of the Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Health Committee, opposes that change.

A separate bill would bring taxes on e-cigarette sales in line with traditional cigarettes. "By taxing them in a way similar to tobacco, we're hoping that we can keep more young people from trying it, getting hooked on it, staying on it," said Baker, lead author of the second bill.

The state Senate has already approved versions of both bills. Both measures must pass the House Committee on Finance by April 5 to advance to the full House of Representatives, the news outlet reported.

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