The bill, proposed by Democratic State Rep. Richard Creagan, would raise the minimum smoking age gradually each year: to 30 in 2020, 40 in 2021, 50 in 2022, 60 in 2023 and 100 in 2024. The legislation, if approved, would only apply to cigarettes, not cigars, e-cigarettes or chewing tobacco.
"The state is obliged to protect the public's health," Creagan recently told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald.
"We don't allow people free access to opioids, for instance, or any prescription drugs," Creagan said.
"This is more lethal, more dangerous than any prescription drug, and it is more addicting. In my view, you are taking people who are enslaved from a horrific addiction, and freeing people from horrific enslavement."
"We, as legislators, have a duty to do things to save people's lives. If we don't ban cigarettes, we are killing people," he added.
Hawaii, with a current minimum age requirement of 21 to purchase cigarettes, already has stricter cigarette laws than most US states, many of which have a minimum age requirement of 18.
The state's House Health Committee is expected to hold a hearing on the proposed legislation this week, according to multiple sources.
Cregan is not the only lawmaker in Hawaii attempting to impose stricter tobacco sale regulation. In July, state senator Dru Kanuha proposed a bill to increase excise taxes on cigarettes from 16 to 21 cents.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the US, causing more deaths every year than the following combined: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries and firearm-related incidents.
Creagan did not immediately respond to Sputnik's request for comment.