Called the Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2020, House Bill 2457, would prohibit the sales of all flavoured tobacco and vaping products across the State. Besides banning flavours, if passed, the bill would also make it unlawful for any retailer to label their products inaccurately, mention any flavours in the labeling and/or market the products in a way that makes them more appealing to teens.
Any person younger than 21 found in possession of any prohibited products, will be fined $10 for the first offense and must complete a tobacco education and cessation program, as well as perform three hours of community service. For subsequent violations the fine increases to $50 and the amount of community service increases to between 48 and 72 hours.
Tackling teen vaping
In 2009, the federal Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act had prohibited flavours, including fruit and candy flavoring in combustible cigarettes, but allowed them in e-cigarettes.
The 2020 state Legislature is aiming to change that given the dramatic increase in teen vaping, despite the fact that this has been correlated to a decline in smoking. “Hawaii should take steps to regulate flavoured tobacco products to reduce tobacco related health disparities and address the youth vaping epidemic,” concluded the Legislature.
Last year, the Department of Health of Hawaii reported that vaping had increased four fold among middle school children from 2011 to 2015, and by six times among high schoolers.
Hawaii Public Health Institute Board Member Dr. Forrest Batz had added that the concern is that exposure to nicotine at such a young age, may have a higher impact on their vulnerable brains than in the general population. “The big deal is that these are products that contain nicotine and that the age group that we’re highly concerned about is the same group whose brains are still growing.”
More EVALI misinformation informing policy
Additionally, following the infamous cases of EVALI which were erroneously associated with vaping nationwide, the state Department of Health had issued a health advisory urging everyone to stop vaping. This is tragic given that the CDC had actually confirmed that the condition was linked to the consumption of illegal THC, not regulated nicotine products.
Read Further: Hawaii Tribune Herald