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STATEMENT: Failure of Statewide Flavored Tobacco Bill Means Legislature Must Support Efforts to Restore Hawai‘i’s Counties’ Home Rule on Tobacco Sales Regulations

A joint statement from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and Hawai‘i Public Health Institute.

More than 8 in 10 Hawai‘i voters support legislation that would end the sale of all flavor tobacco products, but the Hawai‘i State Senate has failed to advance HB 551 HD1 which would have stopped the sale of those products and the mislabeling e-liquids as nicotine free.

Because of the Legislature’s failure to stop the sale of flavored tobacco products at a statewide level (again), the counties need to be given back the power to take action. SB 1447 SD1 restores the counties’ ability to enact home rule regulations on the sale of tobacco products, including cigarettes and electronic smoking devices. Passing SB 1447 SD1 will allow all four counties to enact stricter regulations to protect youth and adults from the negative health impacts of tobacco products. We strongly urge lawmakers to pass SB 1447 SD1, which is scheduled for a hearing on March 22, at 2:00 PM with the House Consumer Protection & Commerce Committee.

Youth in Hawai‘i continue to use e-cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products at alarming rates, with one in three Hawai‘i public high school students and one in six public middle school students reporting they are regularly using e-cigarettes. A closer look at the data shows that youth from Kauaʻi, Maui and Hawaiʻi Counties are vaping at higher rates than the statewide average. Menthol flavor also makes it more difficult for adults who want to quit their nicotine addiction from doing so. Together, our organizations believe that local governments should be allowed to respond to public health issues, like the youth e-cigarette epidemic, in ways that work for their communities.

Preventing local control over the sale and marketing of tobacco products has been a favorite tactic of the tobacco industry for years. They have been successful at using this tactic in Hawai‘i and many other states to prevent effective policies that could reduce tobacco use and save lives. The state cannot continue to fall victim to these tactics of the tobacco industry by blocking the power of county elected officials to protect their constituents from the dangers of e-cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products.

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