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Hawaii law raising smoking age to 21 goes into effect

The law also bans the use of e-cigarettes in restaurants and some other places where smoking is already banned.
By Stephen Feller   |   Jan. 1, 2016 at 7:20 PM

HONOLULU, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Hawaii became the first state in the country to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21, although police say they won't start enforcing the law until April 1.

The new law prohibiting people under 21 from buying cigarettes also includes statewide restrictions on using e-cigarettes in restaurants and other places that already ban smoking.

Hawaii became the first state in the nation to approve legislation raising the age in June when Gov. David Ige signed the bill into law.

"We are proud to once again be at the forefront of the nation in tobacco prevention and control," said Virginia Pressler, Hawaii's director of health, in a press release. "While our comprehensive approach to addressing tobacco use in Hawaii has led to quantifiable decreases in deaths due to smoking, an increase in targeted marketing to our youth and young adults and new technology in the form of e-cigarettes requires our state to take additional measures to protect our young people."

Under the new law, people under 21 caught smoking are subject to a $10 fine the first time and $50 fines for repeat offenses. Selling tobacco to people under 21 brings a $500 fine for the first offense.

The e-cigarette section of the law bans people from using the devices anywhere in the state that smoking already is banned.

Some police have said they will not start enforcing the ban immediately, including those in Honolulu who won't start issuing citations until April 1, according to NBC News.

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