Two smoking bans, legislation that would have raised the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21, multiple tobacco tax changes and a ban on flavored tobacco products have all failed in Hawaii as the state’s Legislature adjourned on May 1.
Smoking on beaches would have become illegal had H.B. 325 become law. It passed one committee before dying. In the Senate, S.B. 2498 would have banned smoking at the University of Hawaii, it failed to pass committee.
A move to change the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21 failed in both the House and Senate without either bill making it onto the floor.
Multiple bills were proposed regarding changes to taxes. Under H.B. 704 and , all tobacco products other than premium cigars would have a new tax of 85 percent of the wholesale price, both bills would have established a 50 cent cap for premium cigars.
In addition, S.B. 188 would have established the 50 cent cap without any increases in taxes, it passed the Senate, but failed in the House, much like H.B 1849 which also would have changed the tax rate regarding premium cigars. Sen. Josh Green, D-Hawai’i, who introduced the cigar-friendly S.B. 188 also introduced S.B. 1307, which never made it to the Senate floor. Similar legislation like H.B. 1849 and S.B. 2971 suffered similar fates.
Another bill, H.B. 1008 would have increased prices on all tobacco products, although premium cigars at a separate rate, but it failed to pass. Additionally, the legislature also adjourned without a full vote on S.B. 2222, a bill that would have banned the sale of flavored tobacco.
This means premium cigars will continue to be taxed at 50 percent of their wholesale cost in Hawaii, which we estimate to be the fourth-highest tax in the U.S. And while smoking will continue to be allowed on some beaches, it is already banned in the counties of Hawai’i, Honolulu and Maui.
Hawai’i County will raise the age to purchase tobacco products to 21 on July 14.