Youth advocates look towards a tobacco-free future

First lady, lawmakers, and youth advocates push back against targeted marketing of vape products to kids

HONOLULU, March 20 — This afternoon, approximately 80 students rallied at the State Capitol to send a message to Big Tobacco on national Kick Butts Day: Stop Targeting Us. They were joined by First Lady Dawn Ige, Lieutenant Governor Josh Green, Senator Karl Rhoads, Senator Rosalyn Baker, Representative John Mizuno, Senator Karl Rhoads, and Rep. Scot Matayoshi.

See photos and video of Kick Butts Day 2019.

Coordinated by Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai’i (CTFH), a program of Hawai‘i Public Health Institute, the event brought together high school and college students from across the state who are fed up with Big Tobacco targeting them with clever marketing and fruit and candy flavors.

Rep Matsumoto rallies with the youthThis year’s rally and press event focused on the need to pass legislation that would regulate vape products (SB1405) and end the sale and distribution of flavored tobacco products, including menthol (SB1009.)

“Talk to any young person and they will tell you how pervasive vaping is among their friends and peers,” said First Lady Dawn Ige.“And if our young people vaping isn’t scary enough, we now know that youth who vape are more likely to transition to regular cigarettes or end up both vaping and smoking.”

Research not only shows a high likelihood of dual-use among youth, but also that the highly-concentrated nicotine in e-cigarettes is a direct threat to the developing brain, interfering with thinking, behavior, and impulse control.

“Hawai’i teenagers are already vaping at epidemic levels, particularly in neighbor islands,” said Lieutenant Governor Josh Green. “Our lawmakers must take action now to protect our youth from a lifetime of tobacco use and nicotine addiction.”

Prohibiting flavors in tobacco products is the top priority for CTFH’s Youth Council members. In addition to today’s rally, they have been meeting with legislators and speaking to classrooms and assemblies of their peers about the dangers of vaping. Their message: the future health of young people who vape is not promising.

“We know that tobacco and vape companies are targeting us,” said Paige McCurdy, a senior at Kapolei High School. “Why else would they make flavors like Rocket Popsicle, Fruit Hoops, and Candy Krush? It has to stop.”

See photos and video of Kick Butts Day 2019.

Learn more about how Flavors Hook Kids at

Learn more about Kick Butts Day at