Raising the age. Hawai‘i became the first state in the nation to raise the legal age to sell or purchase tobacco products (including e-cigarettes) to 21. This was a crowning achievement for our public health community and could reap great rewards for the people of our state. According to the Surgeon General, 95 percent of all adult smokers start smoking before the age of 21. Delaying the age that youth begin using tobacco will reduce the risk that they will become regular smokers as they get older, leading to lower prevalence rates and saving millions of dollars in health care costs.
E-cigs now part of statewide clean indoor air law. ESDs are now also included in Hawaii’s clean indoor air law, covering indoor spaces such as workplaces, restaurants and bars. The emissions from ESDs contains nicotine and cancer-causing chemicals and, like secondhand smoke produced by cigarettes, has no place in enclosed environments where others will be exposed.
HIPHI diversifies programmatic work and expands staff. In 2015, HIPHI began working on specific efforts to promote healthy eating and active living. This included promoting healthier food choices in retail environments, supporting efforts to increase and improve walkability and implement bike lanes, and worksite wellness. With the scope of work nearly doubling in size, HIPHI hired a Communications Director, Chronic Disease Prevention Director, Youth Coordinator, and a Programs Assistant to manage the new portfolio of work.
HIPHI recognized as full member of National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI). Two years after beginning the process of becoming a public health institute, HIPHI was officially recognized as a full member and joins dozens of other institutes in advancing public health practice and improving population health.
Tobacco-Free Parks. Tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, are now prohibited in all Hawai‘i state parks .
Kick Butts Day and the New Youth Council
With the addition of a new Youth Coordinator, the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i, a program of Hawai‘i Public Health Institute, launched the Youth Council to bring together young health-minded leaders. The new group collaborated on some key projects in 2015, including the national Kick Butts Day event where youth come together from across Hawai‘i and across America to stand up to Big Tobacco.
On Kick Butts Day 2015, youth learned how the tobacco industry specifically targets teenagers and how raising the age of sale to buy tobacco products to 21 could counter that. After some advocacy training, the youth rallied at the State Capitol in support of raising the age of sale on tobacco products to 21. Dozens of youth advocates in “Raise The Age” t-shirts met with their legislators to make the case that this legislation should become law. And it did!