Hawaii is poised to become the first state in the country that will require anyone wishing to purchase a tobacco or nicotine delivery product to be at least 21-years-old, and all it will take is the governor’s signature.
The state senate passed SB1030 by a vote of 19-4 on Friday morning and it now heads to Gov. David Ige, who has said he isn’t sure if he will sign the bill, as his staff and state departments must first vet the bill for any legal issues. Should he put his signature on the bill, the change would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2016, and persons under 21 would become subject to a $10 fine for the first offense, with each subsequent offense carrying a $50 fine or community service.
Tobacco and nicotine product retailers would also be subject to discipline, as they would face fines for selling those goods to persons under 21; $500 for the first offense and $500 to $2,000 for each violation thereafter.
Hawaii could be the first of several states to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products this year, as Washington, California, Utah, Rhode Island and New Jersey all have active legislation being considered, as does Washington, D.C.
Four states–Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey and Utah–have already raised the minimum age for tobacco from 18 to 19, while Texas has a bill to do the same in the legislature. While no change has been made at the state level, a growing number of cities in Massachusetts have increased the tobacco purchasing age to 21 in an attempt to make it the de facto state law.