We are over halfway through the legislative session and a lot has happened since Opening Day! We thank you for your continued support — your advocacy efforts are critical in keeping our issues moving through the legislature. Here is an update on where we are at so far:

TOBACCO

A major issue we have been working on is regulating electronic smoking devices (ESDs), or e-cigarettes. We are supporting two bills: one bill will require ESD retailers and wholesalers to be permitted and licensed and add a tax (SB404/HB246), while the other would prohibit the online sale of tobacco products to the state of Hawaii (SB342/HB1495). Only the ESD tax and permit bill, SB404, is still alive and has crossed over to the House.

Large cigars are a hot issue this year – there were bills that sought to increase (SB291/HB247) and cap (SB871/HB769/HB1332) the tax rate. Only one of the tax cap bills, SB871, which we are strongly opposing, is still alive.

Our Youth Council’s policy priority this year is smoke-free vehicles – to prohibit smoking and vaping in vehicles when minors are present. There were three bills this year, though only SB261 is still alive and has crossed over to the House. HB61 and SB282 were never heard.

There were also several bills introduced that would prohibit the use of tobacco products on all University of Hawai‘i campuses – only SB134 remains. The other three, SB1019, HB429 and HB1153, did not receive a hearing by the deadline.

Numerous bills were introduced on smoke-free housing this year. SB104 (companion bill HB897 was never heard) clarifies the process for making amendments to condominium governing documents – while not explicitly related to tobacco, it would make the process more possible to pass smoke-free policies in condos. Another bill, SB151, allows condos to adopt rules that would require owners to prohibit smoking in condos as a part of the lease agreement (companion bill HB267 was deferred by the Consumer Protection and Commerce committee).

HEALTHY EATING + ACTIVE LIVING

This year, our HEAL priorities have been focused on sugar-sweetened beverages, reinstating PE and Health requirements in middle schools, and promoting worksite wellness programs.

Around sugar-sweetened beverages, we proposed a one cent fee-per-ounce for drinks with added sugars and the inclusion of warning labels on packaging to educate consumers about the potential health problems associated with consumption. Unfortunately, all of these bills (Fee: SB375, SB837, HB1210; Warning labels: SB307, HB1209) have died – the health committees in the House and Senate never heard them. However, a resolution to look at the benefits of a sugar-sweetened beverage surcharge program was introduced in the House (HCR128) and the Senate (SCR155).

We are also working on a resolution that would encourage the Board of Education to reinstate health and PE requirements for middle school students (schools may offer them as electives, but they are not required for grade promotion). The measures were introduced by the Chairs of the Education committees in the House and Senate: HCR68 and SR58/SR137.

Our worksite wellness resolution encourages state agencies and departments to implement worksite wellness programs based on the Department of Human Resources Development’s approved policy designed to promote activities, environments, and polices that support the health and well-being of employees in the State of Hawaii.

Other bills that HIPHI have been supporting include: preserving key ACA provisions by writing them into Hawai‘i law, restoring adult dental benefits in Medicaid, supporting initiatives on farm-to-school and safe routes to school, promoting Native Hawaiian health, and advocating on paid family leave.

To stay up to date with these bills, please add outreach@hiphi.org to your email contacts so that you receive key alerts and other news when we send them! For questions on these bills, contact Trish La Chica, Policy and Advocacy Director, at trish@hiphi.org.