On June 19, 2015, Hawaii became the first state in the union to raise the smoking age to 21, largely due to public outcry over the rising popularity of vaping. Four days later, The Verge ran a news story detailing the specifics of the law. On January 1, 2016, it will be illegal for anyone under 21 to either publically purchase, possess, or consume either cigarettes, e-cigs, or vaping devices in any shape or form. This essentially means that a 20-year-old can be arrested for walking down the street carrying a Blu e-cig.
(Courtesy of CSPnet.com)
Apparently, a recent poll took place in six different Hawaii high schools. Over 25 percent of the student body admitted to having tried electronic smoking devices in the past. Even though these students were well under the previously legal smoking age of 18, state government officials feel as if raising the age requirements to 21 would somehow make a significant difference.
"Raising the minimum age as part of our comprehensive tobacco control efforts will help reduce tobacco use among our youth and increase the likelihood that our Keiki will grow up to be tobacco-free," said Hawaii Governor David Ige.
That’s all well and good, but what does the Governor’s statement have to do with vaping? The vaping community wants our children to be tobacco-free as well! Shouldn’t we be patting our kids on the back rather than slapping them down for trying an e-cig over a Marlboro? According to state officials, the answer is “No.”
Over 34 percent of all current smokers in the Aloha State say that their habit took root when they were in their teens. I wonder if the question was asked in that very same poll, “If e-cigs or vape pens were available back then, would you have tried them first before turning to tobacco cigarettes?” Now that would have been a fair question to ask. The likely answer would be a resounding, “YES!”
The trouble with all this brouhaha is that e-cigs and vape pens currently have the same legal classifications as tobacco cigarettes. Like it or not, the vaping community is paying for the sins of Big Tobacco. Will rebellious teens take such offense to this kind of treatment that they once again turn to sneaking Unfiltered Camels out of Dad’s dresser drawer? Or will they rally to fight for their rights to vape! Hopefully, they will choose to fight. But in the meantime, we might have to do the fighting for them.