FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 28, 2021
Communications Director, Hawaiʻi Public Health Institute
TWENTY-FIVE YEARS IN THE WAR ON TOBACCO: WINS, LOSSES & LIES
Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaiʻi Hosts 25th Anniversary Event
(HAWAIʻI) – The Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaiʻi, a program of the Hawaiʻi Public Health Institute, celebrates 25 years of action. In honor of this occasion, today the Coalition celebrated wins, reflected on losses, and exposed the tobacco industry’s tactics in Hawaiʻi during a special virtual meeting.
Keynote speaker Stanton A. Glantz, PhD, renowned anti-tobacco activist, researcher and educator, reflected back on some of Hawaii’s achievements in reducing tobacco-related harms and inspiring the nation: “The creation of the Tobacco Settlement Special Fund [and] a strong statewide smoke-free law overwhelmingly passed in the legislature in 2006; this is a tremendous record of accomplishment that you can be proud of.”
One particular bill cemented Hawaii’s place as a leader in tobacco policy and galvanized nationwide action: “Hawaiʻi was the first state to pass the Tobacco 21 law, which really stimulated efforts at the state and local levels all over the country […] And I think this success actually is what motivated tobacco companies to put more effort into trying to block you. The current battles are really a continuation of this story.”
He underscored the importance of including all flavors in future legislation to eliminate flavors and stem the current youth e-cigarette epidemic. “Menthol is the most important flavor. When you ban other flavors, the kids shift to menthol”. Nikkya Taliaferro, recipient of the Outstanding Advocate of the Year Award, echoes the importance of menthol as an equity issue. “I think there’s so much intersectionality within tobacco work. And I think there are so many ways to frame it as a health issue and a social justice issue. That’s so powerful when fighting against the tobacco industry.”
While looking to continue momentum on the work ahead, the Coalition paused to celebrate advocacy and youth leaders with Alakaʻi Awards. The 2021 awardees included those who spearheaded efforts to end the sale of flavored tobacco products, preserved dedicated funding for tobacco prevention and quit smoking programs, and worked with communities. Dr. Elizabeth Tam, a beloved advocate who passed away in October, was presented with the ʻAʻa Award. Accepted by her daughter, Lauren Grattan, the ‘A‘a Award recognizes an individual who has made an outstanding personal contribution to furthering tobacco control efforts in the community. As a mom, tutu, pulmonologist, and professor, Dr. Tam was a long-time, devoted champion for our communities.
ABOUT: Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i is a national trailblazer in reducing tobacco use through education, policy, and advocacy. Hawai‘i Public Health Institute (HIPHI) works to advance the health and wellness of the people and islands of Hawai‘i. Learn more at hiphi.org.
Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaiʻi
CTFH Youth Council