Guest Blogger: Don Weisman, Hawaii Government Relations Director
Having reached the mid-point of Hawaii’s 2016 State Legislative Session a number of the AHA’s priority bills are still moving ahead.
SB 2690 which proposes to raise Hawaii’s tobacco tax has progressed through its final Senate committee and is expected to now move to the House for consideration. The tax increase, originally proposed at 4-cents per cigarette or small cigar, would earmark the new revenue to support the Hawaii Cancer Center and tobacco prevention, control and cessation programs for those disparately affected by tobacco use. Those include tobacco users in lower-socioeconomic groups, Native Hawaiians, and the LGBT and mental health communities. People in those populations are heavily targeted by tobacco industry marketing and advertising and would benefit the most from programs that could help them beat their nicotine addiction.
SB 2689 would require electronic cigarette wholesalers and retailers to obtain a tobacco permit or license to sell those products. This measure is needed to allow for more effective enforcement of Hawaii’s Tobacco to 21 law passed last year.
SB 2235 would restrict the serving of sugary beverages in Hawaii’s state licensed daycare centers. Sugary beverages represent the single largest of sugar in the American diet. An average 20-oz. sugary beverage such as soda contains more than 16 teaspoons of sugar. Drinking just one 12-ounce soda every day increases a child’s odds of becoming obese by 60 percent, and doubles the risk of dental caries. While most sugary beverages contain little or no nutritional value, soft drink consumption is also associated with lower intakes of milk (therefore calcium and other nutrients). 1 in 3 children entering kindergarten in Hawaii are overweight or obese. The AHA supports this measure as part of a comprehensive approach to reducing and reversing Hawaii’s overweight and obesity epidemic.
Please stay tuned for more on these important measures and watch your e-mail for opportunities to lend your voice in their support.