HONOLULU (AP) -- Hawaii County on Tuesday became the fourth municipality in the nation to ban sales of tobacco products to anyone under age 21.
Selling tobacco to an underage customer can bring a fine of up to $2,000, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (http://bit.ly/TAohNF ) reported.
The measure was passed unanimously in November and is part of a growing trend, said Jessica Yamauchi, director of the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii.
"It is starting to catch on," Yamauchi said. "Hawaii Island is first (in the state). It was introduced at the state Legislature this past legislative session. It passed through one committee on each side and just didn't get another hearing."
A 2012 surgeon general's report concluded that 95 percent of adult smokers got started before age 21, Yamauchi said.
"If you can prevent them from starting before the age of 21, there's very little chance they'll become regular, addicted smokers," she said.
Mariner Revell, owner of Puff Factory, a smoke shop in Hilo, objects to the measure because it includes electronic smoking devices in its definition of tobacco products. E-cigarettes, he said, do not contain tobacco and emit only vapor.
Habitual 18-year-old smokers no longer have the option to use e-cigarettes to stop smoking, he said. About 70 percent of his customers use e-cigarettes to "either lower their use of tobacco or wean themselves totally. . They are a healthier alternative to smoking," Revell said.
E-cigarettes can contain nicotine, a potentially addictive product and could hook people into smoking, Yamauchi said.
Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com
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