1. Maintain funding levels for tobacco prevention and control efforts;
2. Ensure that taxes on all tobacco products are equal to the cigarette tax; and
3. Expand smokefree environments at the state and local levels.
The 2016 legislative session was a relatively quiet one, yet filled both with challenges and successes. Senate bill 305 successfully passed and became Act 025, which prohibits the use of tobacco products and electronic smoking devices on the premises of Hawaii Health Systems Corporation (HHSC) facilities. HHSC is the largest provider of health care in the islands, other than on Oahu and Molokai, and is the only acute care provider on the islands of Maui and Lanai. The system operates 1,303 licensed beds in facilities located on five different islands.
There was much momentum and traction for Senate Bill 2083, the smokefree vehicle bill which would have prohibited smoking and electronic cigarette use in a vehicle when a child under 18 is present. Through a multitude of testimonials and advocacy efforts, the bill was near passage, but died in conference committee between the House of Representatives and Senate. Though the state bill did not pass, this has been law in Hawaii County since 2010, and just recently passed on July 26, 2016 in Kauai County.
All bills relating to cigarette and tobacco taxes, electronic smoking devices licensing and packaging, and smokefree housing, unfortunately died along the way.
Public health partners polled the nearly 300 candidates running for office on tobacco-related public health issues. The top three tobacco control issues receiving the most support were: regulation of internet tobacco sales (85.2%), inadequate federal regulations on electronic smoking devices (84.6%), and smokefree vehicles when a minor is present (83.2%). Advocates also completed the 2016-2020 State Tobacco Prevention and Control Strategic Plan.
In 2017, the American Lung Association in Hawaii will continue its support to fund comprehensive tobacco prevention programs at or near levels recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Advocacy efforts with community partners will continue to support legislation to increase taxes on other tobacco products and explore policies to further regulate electronic smoking devices. The implementation of the state strategic plan will continue to guide Hawaii's work in ensuring a smokefree and tobacco-free Hawaii, through direct education with underserved populations and advocacy efforts at the local and state levels.