The Hawaii state 2022 state legislative session kicked off on January 19 and while we wish it was not the case the 2022 session has started much like the 2021 session; due to the pandemic the Capitol building is not open to the public. With that we don’t anticipate that we, along with our coalition partners, will be holding in-person volunteer days at the Capitol. However, it is still vitally important you connect with your lawmakers to raise your voice on important issues. We will continue to provide you ways to make an impact. Your emails and phone calls will be more important than ever.
Our work in the 2022 session will be focused heavily on trying to address the youth vaping crisis in our state.
Our focus will be on three issues:
- Restricting the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol and mint.
- Taxing e-cigarettes/vaping devices to create pricing parity with other tobacco products. We believe that these products should be treated like traditional tobacco products and that includes higher taxes to discourage their harmful use.
- Updating tobacco retail licensing requirements to include e-cigarette/vape retailers. Currently shops that exclusively sell e-cigarettes don’t have to obtain a license from the state like traditional tobacco retailers do. Licensure will improve education outreach to retailers, and the threat of loss of license will provide disincentive to sell e-cigarettes to those under age 21. The Heart Association also feels strongly that the penalty for selling to those under the legal purchase age, 21, should be on the seller and not the purchaser. Our youth, especially those of certain ethnicities and social economic status, are targeted heavily by tobacco and vape industry marketing and it is unfair, and adds to social inequities, to penalize them when they succumb to that marketing. Instead retailers who illegally sell tobacco and vape products to underage purchasers should be held responsible.
Hawaii, like many states, has seen an increase in the number of teenagers and young adults using flavored e-cigarette devices. Eighty percent of tobacco users start with a flavored product and that is why we believe enticing flavors should be removed from tobacco products. Recent data tells us that 30.6 percent of Hawaii high schoolers admit to regularly using flavored e-cigarettes/vape. On some islands it’s much higher.
Passing this legislation will be challenging, but for the health of our community and our keiki we need to address the growing epidemic of e-cigarette use in Hawaii. We look forward to working together with you to build a healthier Hawaii in 2022.
hero_image_alt_text===Hawaii state capitol building
thumbnail_alt_text===Hawaii state capitol building