Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility Skip to content
Section Navigation
100 Students And Community Advocates In State Capitol Rotunda Wearing Pink Shirts And Holding Signs.

Take Down Tobacco Day 2024

More than 100 Hawai‘i youth gathered at the State Capitol on March 20th with a message for lawmakers – it’s time to take action against Big Tobacco.

View Photos

Students from four islands, representing 30 public and private schools from 8th grade through college, took time away from their spring break to learn more about the youth vaping epidemic, how a bill becomes a law, and advocate for the Youth Council’s policy priorities to end the sale of flavored tobacco in Hawai‘i and restore the counties’ authority to regulate tobacco sales. 

The morning started at Hawai‘i Pacific University’s Aloha Tower campus with youth-led workshops and a march to the State Capitol. Students were recognized in the Senate and House Chambers and joined by community advocates and lawmakers for sign-waving in front of the Capitol. 

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death, and each year, 1,400 people in Hawai‘i die from a tobacco-related illness. To raise awareness of these preventable deaths, youth advocates changed from their pink Flavors Hook Kids t-shirts into black for the press event, where youth Council member Zoe Slentz shared the efforts of the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i Youth Council over the past six years to try and pass a bill ending the sale of flavored tobacco in Hawai‘i. 

Slentz shared, “We started this legislative session with hope; ten bills initially supported our policy priorities to end the sale of flavored tobacco in Hawai‘i and to restore the county’s authority to regulate tobacco sales. However, only HB 1563 and HB 1778 received an initial hearing, with HB 1778 being the only bill passed out of the House Health Committee. HB 1778 would have restored the county’s authority to regulate tobacco sales. It would have allowed the City and County of Honolulu and County of Hawaii’s bills to end the sale of flavored tobacco to go into effect. HB 1778 also passed The House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce and was referred to the Finance Committee. It never received a hearing in the Finance Committee, killing our last bill alive in the 2024 legislative session.”

The Youth Council asked lawmakers to consider SB 1447, a carryover bill from 2023 that would restore the counties’ authority to regulate tobacco sales, the last hope for action this session. 

Director of the Hawai‛i Department of Health, Dr . Kenneth Fink, reiterated the financial and health-related toll tobacco has on Hawai‘i. Students and community supporters also heard from Senator Karl Rhoads, Senator Brandon Elefante, and Representative Scot Matayoshi. 

Senator Elefante, who introduced SB 1447, said, “Now more than ever we must enact legislation to prevent our children and communities from being affected by the harmful consequences of tobacco use.”

Following the rotunda event, youth spent the rest of the afternoon meeting individually in small groups with more than 60 Senators and Representatives to share how tobacco use, and more specifically, flavored e-cigarette use, is impacting their communities. 

The Youth Council would like to thank the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Heart Association, AlohaCare, the Department of Health, Hawai‘i Pacific University, and Hawai‘i Public Health Institute for making this day possible.

Scott Stensrud, MA

Scott Stensrud, MA

Statewide Youth Coordinator
Back To Top