Democrat James J. Devine is applauding Hawaii officials for becoming the first state in the country to outlaw smoking for anyone under 21 years of ago.
“Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, annually accounting for more than 480,000 deaths or about 20 percent of the total,” said Devine, who based his assertion on data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“While some cities and counties, including New York City, have raised the legal smoking age to 21, Hawaii recently became the first state to do so,” said the liberal New Jersey Democrat.
“Raising the minimum age as part of our comprehensive tobacco control efforts will help reduce tobacco use among our youth and increase the likelihood that our keiki (children) will grow up to be tobacco-free,” said Hawaii Governor David Ige, who signed the law that takes effect on Jan. 1, 2016, and will also ban the sale, purchase or use of electronic cigarettes for those under the age of 21.
Ige also signed a bill banning smoking and e-cigarette use at state parks and beaches.
Researchers say that raising the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21 or 25 years old would significantly reduce tobacco use and related illnesses and that a majority of U.S. adults support raising the legal age to 21.
Devine has proposed a ban on tobacco sales to anyone born after a fixed date, in order to prevent nicotine addiction among anyone who is not now legally allowed to smoke.
“If nobody born after a certain date can legally buy tobacco products, these lethal and addictive substances would fade away without causing hardship to anyone except the murderous profiteers who sell them,” said Devine, who supports marijuana legalization. “There is no comparison between tobacco, which kills, and pot, which can be safely used by adults.”
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