Creagan proposes cigarette ban

  • A woman smokes a cigarette, in March 2013, while sitting in her truck in Hayneville, Ala. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

HILO — Rep. Richard Creagan wants Hawaii to be the first state to ban the sale of cigarettes.

The Hawaii Island lawmaker said he doesn’t think taxes or regulations are doing enough to stem their use. He wants to see them off store shelves all together.


“It’s slowing it down, but it’s not stopping the problem,” said Creagan, D-South Kona/Ka‘u, regarding current tobacco laws, including the state’s minimum smoking age of 21.

“Basically, we essentially have a group who are heavily addicted — in my view, enslaved by a ridiculously bad industry — which has enslaved them by designing a cigarette that is highly addictive, knowing that it highly lethal. And, it is.”

His bill, HB 1509, seeks to halt the sale of cigarettes by increasing the minimum age to 30 in 2020, 40 in 2021, 50 in 2022, 60 in 2023, and 100 in 2024.

The bill does not apply to electronic smoking devices or cigars, which Creagan, a physician, sees as safer alternatives. Chewing tobacco also is left out.

He said the bill is structured the way it is to help it pass legal muster.

The lawmaker said he doesn’t think the state would be over-reaching.

“The state is obliged to protect the public’s health,” said Creagan, who acknowledged he smoked cigarettes during his medical residency to help him stay awake during long shifts. He also picked tobacco as a teenager as a summer job.

“We don’t allow people free access to opioids, for instance, or any prescription drugs,” Creagan said.

“This is more lethal, more dangerous than any prescription drug, and it is more addicting. In my view, you are taking people who are enslaved from a horrific addiction, and freeing people from horrific enslavement. We, as legislators, have a duty to do things to save people’s lives. If we don’t ban cigarettes, we are killing people.”

Creagan supports legalization of marijuana because he said it’s not as addictive nor as dangerous to a person’s health.

The bill, which has two other sponsors, is expected to be heard this week by the House Health Committee.

He’s not the only Hawaii Island lawmaker seeking to clamp down on tobacco use.


Sen. Dru Kanuha, D-Kona/Ka’u, introduced SB 887, which would increase the excise tax on cigarettes to 21 cents, instead of 16 cents, in July. It mandates revenue be used for health programs and research.

As a Hawaii County Council member, Kanuha introduced a bill increasing the county’s minimum age to buy tobacco to 21, ahead of the rest of the state. The bill was enacted in 2014.

  1. diverdave February 5, 2019 9:57 am

    Prohibition on cigs. And, I’ll bet he is in favor of legalizing pot. Isn’t there more important uses of my tax money other
    than creating a black market in tobacco?

  2. Kaipo Wall February 5, 2019 10:43 am

    Grow your own

  3. KonaDude February 5, 2019 11:16 am

    If we don’t ban automobiles we are killing people(.Y.)

  4. Bone Crusher February 5, 2019 2:26 pm

    Don’t forget that our economy is dependent on tourism. Many of the people that visit this island smoke. It looks like vaping is slowly converting smokers anyway. Lastly, it’s none of his business if an adult wants to smoke.

  5. Pest Outwest February 5, 2019 6:25 pm

    That’s a great idea, but why stop there? Surely we all agree that sugar is bad for you, so let’s ban all candy, pop and cereal. Saturated fats? Bad, goodbye pork and steak. Methyl mercury? Terrible, no more tuna, mahi or ono. Salt is also not good, especially when mixed with tuna and oil, so no more poke. And don’t even get me started on alcohol, surely the most destructive substance we consume as a society, so no more beer or booze. Wheat gluten, bad, no hot dog buns or macamadia pancakes for the kids (no hot dogs for that matter). So, let’s see, what’s left? Soybeans? Jeesh, pass the tofu. No soy sauce of course.

    1. angkoldoy February 5, 2019 7:23 pm

      Who would not agree? Adults are mature and educated enough to make their own choices. The only caveat is that the users sign a waiver for life. If their choices causes them harm, they chose to not allow any (zero, ,none) public monies in any way, manner or form to treat or care for them. Fair enough?

      1. CongressWorksForUs February 6, 2019 8:13 am

        OK, but let’s go even further; no bailouts in any form for local and state governments that are essentially bankrupt. If you’re dumb enough to vote for Democrats that are intent on destroying you economically, by promising their voters things they can’t possibly pay for with the intention on kicking the can down the road to subsequent generations (I am looking at you, Illinois and New Jersey!), then too damn bad… your own stupid fault for voting for decades for the same insanity and expecting responsible people to save you from your own idiocy.

      2. joedriver February 6, 2019 10:50 am

        I think it’s fair, they smoke, get ill, their personal insurance pays for treatment if no insurance, oh well Karma strikes.. The guys comments below are just let’s say vindictive

  6. Bone Crusher February 6, 2019 6:33 am

    Creagan is an overbearing politician who chooses the vise that he believes should be eliminated from society. It must make him feel powerful to be able to deem something illegal and be backed by the power of the government.

  7. CongressWorksForUs February 6, 2019 8:10 am

    Look at the way it is being structured. An outright ban would immediately fall foul of the Constitution. By trying to phase in age limits, they’re hoping SCOTUS would accept this as being OK. The problem is that smoking doesn’t cause cancer in everyone, so the bill would be targeting a group of individuals that are unaffected in order to protect others that are. Still unconstitutional.

  8. Uncle Kokomo February 6, 2019 9:46 am

    This is so stupid, its not even funny. Everyone who smokes knows the effects and consequences. If you want to smoke, it’s your decision and shouldn’t be up to the government to dictate. By the way, how are you going to replace the massive tax revenue that cigarettes generate?

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