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Hawaii law bans import of e-cigarettes, e-liquids

It is now illegal to import electronic smoking devices and e-liquids into the islands after Gov. Josh Green signed a bill into law Tuesday as part of a years-long and continuing effort to prevent children from becoming addicted to nicotine. No one on Tuesday addressed what happens to the legality of current inventory in Hawaii.

At the bill-signing ceremony at the state Capitol, Green applauded lawmakers and especially young anti- vaping advocates who, he said, have “kept the pressure on us in all the right ways to pass this legislation.”

“That was easy to pass this bill after years of working hard with so many people,” he said. “I’m just really honored to be with you today to move the bar … on what … has become a terrible health crisis.”

“We have to recognize that tobacco is poison,” said Green, America’s only medical doctor elected to serve as a governor. “And tobacco use continues to be the single most preventable cause of disease that we could deal with, that we can affect. … It causes death in the United States. So this is a monumental first step in protecting our keiki from Big Tobacco.”

The latest version of Senate Bill 975, which Green signed into law as Act 62, also mandates a state general excise tax of 70% on the wholesale price of each existing electronic smoking device or e-liquid sold beginning Jan. 1, along with increased GETs on other tobacco products.

One in 3 high school students vape, along with 1 in 20 middle schoolers, said Green, who with his wife, Jaime, is the parent of a daughter in high school and a son in middle school.

“I’m serious about this,” Green said.

Green and others said that the prohibition on importing e-cigarettes and related products into Hawaii is just another step in changing the culture of tobacco use following decades of efforts to curtail cigarette smoking across the country.

“This is the model we used on traditional cigarettes,” Green said. “It takes decades to make all the difference, and today is really a huge start.”

Green used the occasion to call out an unnamed “awful person” who ensured that the anti-vaping and e-cigarette import ban would become law by continually “blowing vape and smoke into my face over the years.”

“That it made it completely, completely guaranteed that we were going to find a way to pass this bill on behalf of the people and kids of Hawaii,” he said. “So to you who did that, which was not nice, we are fighting the vaping epidemic on your behalf here to stop vaping for keiki.”

Various legislators and anti-tobacco advocates vowed that Tuesday’s bill signing was just one effort to clamp down on vaping and e-cigarette marketing efforts aimed at Hawaii’s youth.

“This is a great first step in the right direction,” said state Rep. Scot Matayoshi (D, Kaneohe-Maunawili). “I think there are many more steps that we need to take.

“But really, I’m so proud of the Legislature this year for getting … this tax in place that’s going to make it more difficult for children to get addicted to nicotine,” which he called “as addictive as heroin. This is absolutely insane to me.”

“This bill is for my kids who are in preschool,” Matayoshi added. “This bill is for future kids and adults who not addicted to nicotine.”

Pediatrician Bryan Mih, medical director for the Ka­piolani Medical Center for Women &Children’s Smokefree Families Tobacco and Nicotine Cessation Program, called the new anti-vaping import ban just one of 15 recommendations of the Journal of Pediatrics aimed at protection children from nicotine.

Hawaii already has banned children from purchasing nicotine, and Mih said that he hoped “we continue to be one of the leaders in the nation.”

But the remaining recommendations, he said, illustrate “how far we have to go.”

Source: Star Advertiser