The chamber passed the tobacco 21 measure on a 66-30 vote, and it will now be passed onto the Senate for consideration. If signed into law, Washington would be the seventh state to raise the legal age to 21 following California, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Oregon.
Sadly, the bill doesn’t differentiate between deadly combustible tobacco products such as cigarettes, and safer alternatives such as vaping products. Research keeps indicating that vaping products are significantly safer than cigarettes, and are also the most effective smoking cessation tools to date. To this effect many public health experts think that the government should regulate these two products separately and in a way that is relative to their risks.
Earlier this month, a similar measure was passed from Virginia’s house of delegates and is now making its way through the General Assembly. On the other hand, the state of Hawaii is considering amending the current smoking regulations, to incrementally raise the legal age at which one can purchase cigarettes to 100.
Hawaii differentiates between cigarettes and safer alternatives
As mentioned earlier, currently Hawaiians must be 21 in order to be able to purchase cigarettes, but under the new proposals, the age would rise to 30 in 2020, 40 in 2021, 50 in 2022, 60 in 2023, and then jump from 60 to 100 in 2024.
In what will be considered a commendable move by many anti-smoking experts, this age limit measure proposed in Hawaii, would apply only cigarettes, and not to safer alternatives such as e-cigarettes and snus. Research has indicated that imposing the same regulations on cigarettes and safer alternatives is sending the wrong message to the public, and perpetuating the current misinformation about products which have the potential of saving millions of lives, otherwise lost to smoking.
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