A group of legislators in Hawaii have introduced a pair of bills that seek to further curtail tobacco use by banning the sale of flavored tobacco products and requiring that all tobacco transactions conducted by retailers in the state be done via in-person retail sales, reigniting a push from the previous legislative session that had to be abandoned amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
While several bills have been introduced to ban flavored tobacco sales, SB 63 and HB 1328 were recently introduced into their respective chambers, and have each gained more than 15 co-sponsors. In addition to the flavored tobacco ban and in-person sales requirement, the bills seek to increase the license fee for wholesalers and dealers of tobacco products and the retail tobacco permit fee. The license for a wholesaler or dealer permit would jump from $2.50 to $2,500 per year, while the retail tobacco permit would jump from $20 to $100 per year.
The bill also calls for stiff fines for retailers who violate the proposed laws, starting at $1,000 for a first offense before hitting $5,000 for a third offense.
Retailers of electronic smoking devices would also be required to pay an additional excise tax, and will face new requirements for labeling products containing nicotine.
The Senate bill has been referred to three committees for additional hearings, while the House bill is awaiting action after getting its first reading. If passed as currently written, the new laws would go into effect on July 1.