HONOLULU – Mayor Rick Blangiardi signed a bill Friday afternoon designed to prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products within the City and County of Honolulu. Bill 46, which was passed by the Honolulu City Council earlier this month, prohibits the sale of all candy-like flavors, including bubble gum, gummy bear and POG.
Data from the state Department of Health indicates that one in three high school students say they use e-cigarettes, with eight out of 10 saying they started with a flavored tobacco product.
“It’s time that we tackle the youth vaping epidemic at the root of the problem and remove flavored e-cigarettes and menthol cigarettes from the shelves,” said Mayor Blangiardi. “We need a comprehensive approach to ending the youth vaping crisis and we’re proud that the City and County of Honolulu is leading the way — but we can’t do it alone. We need the state to give us back the power to regulate tobacco products so this law can go into effect.”
Currently, state law mandates that the sale of cigarettes, tobacco products and electronic smoking devices are regulated at the state level, rather than with each individual county. Bill 46 is considered a “trigger law,” meaning that it would go into effect 42 days after the state’s preemption of county ordinances on the sale of tobacco products is officially repealed or suspended.
This bill, and efforts to pass similar legislation in other counties across the state, puts pressure on state lawmakers to take action.
“This is the first step in addressing our youth vaping epidemic, and it ensures that Honolulu is ready to take action when our regulatory power is restored by the State,” said Councilmember Matt Weyer, (District 2). “Bill 46 was youth driven, and I am grateful for their leadership and hard work.”
Several students who supported legislative efforts to pass Bill 46 attended Friday’s ceremonial signing event.
“As kids are becoming increasingly addicted and dependent on e-cigarettes, I’ve noticed how much it has taken over their daily lives,” said Samantha Lay, senior at Roosevelt High school and member of the Youth Council of the Coalition of a Tobacco-Free Hawaii. “My peers are left struggling to concentrate on their studies, have lost interest and enthusiasm to engage in extracurricular activities, and experience more difficulty in maintaining friendships.”