On November 8, over fifty supporters and members of the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i…
The Coalition for Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i diligently works to identify strategies to advance tobacco control and prevention in the state. While the state-level work is undoubtedly essential, there is a lot of value in working to implement strong policies at the county level. The statewide policy workgroup, informed by the goals of the county coalitions and other community groups, fully supports the work in each county to address Hawai‘i’s youth vaping epidemic.
The coalition is working county by county to implement ordinances to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products within their respective jurisdiction. This effort kicked off in the City & County of Honolulu. The coalition, Council Chair Tommy Waters, and Housing, Sustainability and Health Committee Chair Matt Weyer wrote a bill to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products within the City and County of Honolulu. However, this ordinance will only go into effect once the counties regain the authority to regulate tobacco sales.
On August 9, 2023, Bill 46 received its first council reading. Following the vote by the full council, the bill moved to the Housing, Sustainability and Health Committee. There were five hearings, where the public and lawmakers participated in lively discussions and debates. The bill generated a lot of attention, and many people weighed in.
As with any piece of legislation, compromises had to be made. The integrity of Bill 46 remained, and its passage was a success. We had the opportunity to improve the definition of flavored tobacco, include language that would address lessons learned from other states, and incorporate the concerns of elected officials, enforcement agencies, and retailers.
On October 4, 2023, Bill 46 passed its final reading. The victory was well deserved, and many people championed this bill, engaged in discussion and compromise, and did not give up on seeing it through. Following the passage of Bill 46 from the City Council, Mayor Rick Blangiardi held a public bill signing to celebrate the victory (Ordinance 23-28). Mayor Blangiardi spoke adamantly regarding the great need for the counties to be able to end the sale of flavored tobacco products in their communities and is a strong supporter of this work!
Following the passage of the ordinance in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi County Council is now taking up the measure. The local coalition and the youth council members there are forging ahead. They have been holding meetings, doing education, and rallying the community; because of this work, Councilmember Susan Lee Loy authored Bill 102. So far, it passed its first two hearings. We are excited to support Hawaiʻi County with this work!
This county work will coincide with statewide efforts to pass tobacco prevention and control laws. During the 2024 Legislative Session, HIPHI and partners will advocate for both returning the authority to regulate tobacco sales to the counties and ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products statewide.