The Hawai’i County Council voted 9-0 on Wednesday to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21, according to a statement issued by the Center for Tobacco-Free Kids. The vote comes a day after New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a bill doing the same thing in the nation’s largest city.
The bill now goes to Mayor William P. Kenoi, and if it is signed, will go into effect on July 1, 2014.
Bill 135 includes a grandfather period for those older than 18 when the bill takes effect. Much like the legislation passed in New York City, the bill targets retailers who sell tobacco products to those under 21, with fines starting at $500 for the first offense and reaching $2,000 for subsequent offenses. The legislation was authored by Councilman Dru Mamo Kanuha.
The bill covers any tobacco product intended for human consumption, including but not limited to cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, snuff and electronic smoking devices.
Hawai’i County also joins Needham and Canton, Massachusetts in raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21. Needham’s law has been in effect since 2005, while Canton’s law takes effect January 1, 2014. While the federal minimum age to purchase tobacco is 18, Alabama, Alaska, New Jersey and Utah have raised the age to 19.
Currently, Washington D.C.’s City Council is developing a similar proposal, with reports of nearly half the council currently in favor.