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Our Policy Priorities for 2017 Legislative Session

For the upcoming 2017 legislative session, HIPHI is working on many policies to promote healthy living in Hawai‘i, including various sugar-sweetened beverage bills and continuing to focus on tobacco prevention and control. Please see the list below for additional details on our policy priorities:

Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i

#1 Protect funding for the Tobacco Trust Fund

Hawai‘i spends $5.3 million, about 39% of the CDC recommended funding level ($13.7 million) for state tobacco prevention and cessation. But our state will receive $178 million in 2017 alone from the 1998 state tobacco settlement and from tobacco taxes. It is important as new tobacco taxes are implemented that a portion is earmarked for tobacco prevention and control.  In our recent public opinion poll, 89% of Hawai‘i voting residents support using tobacco taxes to fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

#2 Tobacco taxes

We will defend current levels of tobacco taxation and work to enact a tax on electronic smoking devices (currently the only tobacco product without a tax). Mandatory licensing/permitting of electronic smoking device wholesalers and retailers is also needed. Additionally, we will work to build support for an increase in the tax on cigarettes, which has not been increased since 2011. To remain effective, tax increases must occur periodically to keep up with inflation.

#3 Smoke-free vehicles when a minor is present

Secondhand smoke in a car can be up to ten times more toxic than what the EPA considers hazardous air quality, even when a window is down. (Source) We will work to build on existing smoke-free vehicle laws that are protecting our keiki in Hawai‘i County and Kaua‘i. This is the policy priority of our Tobacco Youth Council, which is comprised of high school and college students across the state of Hawai‘i.

#4 Online sales of tobacco products

Online retailers have poor age verification measures in place, thus creating a loophole for law enforcement. A study in North Carolina tested the effectiveness of age verification measures for the online sale of electronic smoking device sales to minors. A whopping 93.7% of purchase attempts by minors went through and 76.5% had no age verification upon delivery. (Source)

Healthy Eating + Active Living

#1 Sugar-sweetened beverage fee

A sugar-sweetened beverage fee is a policy strategy to reduce consumption on sugar-sweetened beverages and generate revenue for obesity prevention or other health-related programs, including oral health. Seven cities in four states have already passed a fee on sugar-sweetened beverages. These include San Francisco (CA), Oakland (CA), Albany (CA), Berkeley (CA), Boulder (CO), Cook County (IL) and Philadelphia (PA).

#2 Warning labels for sugar-sweetened beverage products

Warning labels warn consumers of the potential health hazards of consuming beverages with added sugar. These include obesity, tooth decay, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Studies also show that parents are less likely to choose sugar-sweetened beverages for their children after viewing a warning label. Participants in this study strongly believed that warning labels encourage them to buy fewer sugar-sweetened beverages for their children. (Source)

To stay updated with our latest policy news, please sign up for our e-mail list. We will send out news and opportunities to take action when bills relating to these topics are up for a hearing in the state legislature.

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