A bill to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products that is moving through the Hawaii State Senate will face another challenge on Tuesday as the Senate Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to vote on it during a meeting scheduled for 9:05 AM.
Senate Bill 2222 was introduced on January 16 and has so far cleared the Commerce and Consumer Protection and Judiciary and Labor committees, with the former passing it 3-1 with one excused member and the latter casting six votes in favor and one in opposition.
The bill was supposed to be read by the Ways and Means Committee on February 19 but was deferred until Tuesday. One of the co-sponsors of the bill, Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran, sits on the 13-member committee. The bill’s primary sponsor, Senator Rosalyn Baker, is a member of the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee as well as the Senate’s Health Committee, among others.
As it currently stands after one revision, the bill would prohibit “the sale, offer to sell or the distribution of flavored tobacco products in the state,” as well as impose a $500 fine for a first offense and for offenses thereafter, imposes a fine of no less than $500 but no greater than $2000.
Through the definitions the bill establishes, it would include cigars, snuff, chewing or smokeless tobacco and smoking or pipe tobacco, with “characterizing flavor” to include tobacco products that are artificial or natural in taste, flavor or smell.
A companion bill, HB 1788, was introduced in the state House of Representatives in January has been referred to a pair of committees who have yet to hear it.
Baker is also the primary sponsor of Senate Bill 2496, which would impose an excise tax equal to 85% of the wholesale price on each article or item of tobacco products, other than large cigars, sold by a wholesaler or dealer on and after January 1, 2015. That bill is also slated to be heard by the Ways and Means Committee during their meeting on Tuesday.