As 2019 comes to a close, we’re looking ahead to the 2020 legislative session. HIPHI’s legislative priorities will tackle some key health issues, including regulation of e-cigarettes to reverse the youth vaping epidemic, promotion of oral health access, and education and prevention of rat lungworm disease. Take a look at some of our key policy priorities and find out how you can get involved.

End the sale of flavored tobacco products

A bill to prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol.

Following decades of progress in youth addiction to cigarettes, e-cigarette and tobacco companies are hooking a whole new generation on nicotine with sweet flavors to mask the harsh taste of tobacco. With 97 percent of youth who vape saying they use a flavored tobacco product*, it’s clear that in order to reverse the youth vaping epidemic, we need to eliminate the sale of the flavors that entice them.
*2016-2017 wave of the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) study.

Regulate ecigarettes as tobacco products

A bill to require e-cigarette retailers and wholesalers to obtain a tobacco license or permit in order to sell their products, establish a tax on vaping products, and restrict online sales directly to consumers.

According to the Surgeon General, increasing the price of tobacco through taxes is one of the most effective interventions; it especially helps to keep youth from picking up this deadly habit. Unlike traditional cigarettes, the e-cigarette industry is largely unregulated, including loopholes allowing youth to purchase online, leading to astronomical levels of youth vaping in Hawai‘i. In order to reverse this alarming trend, Hawai‘i must enact policies that create uniform regulations across all tobacco products.

Improve oral health for adult Medicaid enrollees

A bill to restore preventative dental benefits for the adult Medicaid population.

Adult Medicaid enrollees have no coverage for preventive or routine dental care (only emergency dental services, such as extraction or pain management). This bill seeks to expand access to dental services to this population, which would result in reduced emergency room costs to the state (totaled $17 million in 2016) and improve oral health for Hawaii’s families.

Farm to School: Agriculture education and rat lungworm prevention

A bill to fund community-based education, rat lungworm host control, and statewide data collection through the Department of Health.

Angiostrongyliasis (also known as rat lungworm) is a serious disease caused by a parasite, affecting the brain and spinal cord. Empowering community members and students to collect data on known hosts (such as snails and slugs) will help to increase our understanding of this disease statewide.

Policy and Advocacy Training

In preparation for the legislative session, HIPHI is partnering with Blue Zones Project, Common Cause, Hawai‘i Alliance for Nonprofit Organizations, Hawai‘i Appleseed for Law and Economic Justice, and Hawai‘i Children’s Action Network to host a Policy and Advocacy Training on Saturday, January 11 from 8:30 AM – 3:00 PM at ILWU Hale (451 Atkinson Drive, Honolulu, Hawaiʻi 96814). Register here!