Hawaii's Bill to Raise Smoking Age Heads to Governor

HONOLULU — Hawaii could become the first state to boost the legal age to buy cigarettes to 21. 

The state legislature approved such a bill on Friday, sending the measure to Gov. David Ige for a final signature. The governor has not yet decided whether he will sign the bill, and his staff has to first vet all bills for legal issues, according to The Associated Press.

"The departments will be doing their review and then we'll have the opportunity to look at it," Ige said.

The bill would prevent adolescents from smoking, buying or possessing both traditional and electronic cigarettes. Those caught breaking the rules would be fined $10 for the first offense, and subsequent violations would lead to a $50 fine or mandatory community service, the AP report noted.

Dozens of local governments have increased the legal age to buy tobacco products over the past two years, including Hawaii County and New York City. So far, no such move has been implemented statewide.

"Today, we have the opportunity to change the paradigm," said Democratic state Sen. Rosalyn Baker, who introduced the bill.

Democratic Sen. Gil Riviere, who voted against the bill in the 19-4 vote, said if the state wants to eliminate smoking, it should ban it for everyone.

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