Mayor Kenoi Signs Bill 135 Into Law – Law Targets Stores Selling Cigarettes to Folks Under 21

Mayor Billy Kenoi signed into law Bill 135 to raise the legal age of sale of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes to 21 in Hawai‘i County. A ceremonial signing of the bill was held today at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center at 3 p.m.

Representatives from the Coalition for Tobacco-Free Hawai'i and Kealakehe High School students who advocated for the measure joined Mayor Billy Kenoi and Councilman Dru Mamo Kanuha for a ceremonial signing of Bill 135.

Representatives from the Coalition for Tobacco-Free Hawai’i and Kealakehe High School students who advocated for the measure joined Mayor Billy Kenoi and Councilman Dru Mamo Kanuha for a ceremonial signing of Bill 135.

The Coalition For A Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i (CTFH) West Hawai‘i and East Hawai‘i Coalitions and staff from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids worked closely with West Hawai‘i Councilmember Dru Mamo Kanuha and his staff to pass this bill. Hawai‘i County Council unanimously passed Bill 135, nine to zero on November 20.

“I signed this bill for the benefit of our community, and most importantly, our kids,” said Mayor Kenoi. “Mahalo to Councilman Kanuha for hearing their voices and having the courage to follow through. With all of the known harmful effects of tobacco use, this measure is in the best interest of public health and safety.”

More than 40 students from Kealakehe High and Konawaena High attended the initial committee hearing on October 15 and the final reading on November 20, wearing t-shirts stating ‘One Good Reason’ with an arrow pointing up toward their face. Waiākea High students submitted nearly 300 pieces of written testimony.

“My commitment is to help our young people live longer and healthier lives than the generation who came before them, and to improve the overall health of our island,” Councilmember Kanuha said.

“We are deeply grateful to Councilmember Kanuha and his staff for creating a bill that was easy for the other councilmembers to support,” said Sally Ancheta, East Hawai‘i Coalition coordinator for CTFH. “We thank Mayor Kenoi for taking the initiative to protect our youth and supporting the many voices that came to testify.”

The ordinance will take effect on July 1, 2014 and will exempt people who reach the age of 18 before that date. Any person who distributes tobacco or electronic cigarette products to an underage customer will be subject to a fine of up to $2,000.

Nearly 1,200 Hawai‘i residents die each year from diseases that can be attributed to smoking, according to CTFH. Of those, more than 90 percent of them became daily tobacco users before the age of 18. For more information about the 21 reasons campaign, visit twentyonereasons.org.

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