Hawaii County considering raising tobacco age restriction
The Hawaii County Council is taking up a measure that could raise the legal age for buying tobacco products from 18 to 21.
Kona Councilman Dru Kanuha plans to introduce the bill at a meeting October 15th at the West Hawaii Civic Center.
The bill is backed by the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii.
Experts say 95-percent of smokers begin the habit before the turn 21.
Tobacco laws are mandated at the state level, however a federal law known as the Synar Amendment, part of the Public Services Health Act of 1993, required all 50 states to enact and enforce the 18-year age minimum for those being sold tobacco products.
In June 2009, President Obama signed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act granting authority of regulating tobacco products to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
That act included several items fortifying the age restrictions, along with placing restrictions on adverstising.
According to the State Department of Health, tobacco sales to minors fell from 44.5-percent in 1996 to 4.5-percent in 2010.
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