Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024 |
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HONOLULU — Gov. Josh Green on Tuesday signed long-sought legislation to address youth vaping.
Senate Bill 975, which became Act 62 with Green’s signature, establishes the offense of unlawful shipment of tobacco products.
This includes placing electronic smoking devices and e-liquids under the definition of “tobacco products” for purposes of the cigarette tax and tobacco tax law, according to a press release from Green’s office.
That means all vape products will be subject to a 70% wholesale tax, one of the highest rates in the nation.
“This legislation has been years in the making, and I applaud the Department of Health and all the advocates, including youth advocates, who have successfully stewarded this to fruition,” said Green in a statement. “This new law is going to improve the health of our young people and will prevent damaging addiction to nicotine for many, many of our keiki.
“That said, I know we all have more work to do in addressing vaping in our society, especially in our youth culture. I know that the Health Department and my former colleagues in the Senate and House are going to stay focused on this as part of their ongoing efforts for the health and safety of the people of Hawaii.”
Oahu Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole, who is chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection, said “the explosion of youth vaping over the last 10 years has caused a health crisis.”
“SB 975 takes aim at the youth vaping epidemic by concentrating enforcement on the unregulated local and online vape market,” he said in a statement. “This bill will reduce access and availability of electronic smoking devices to children and teens and stem the tide of vaping addiction overwhelming our schools.”
Pediatrician Bryan Mih, medical director of the Kapi‘olani Smokefree Families Program at Hawaii Pacific Health, said “the science is clear that having appropriate taxes helps reduce the initiation of nicotine-containing products, especially for young people.”
“We now have a new law that will help reduce exposure to harmful chemicals and decrease the number of young people and children becoming lifetime nicotine addicts,” he said.
Act 62 takes effect on July 1.
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