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Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in Hawaii. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association calls for the following actions to be taken by Hawaii's elected officials:

  1. Repeal preemption of local tobacco sales laws that was added in 2018;
  2. Increase tobacco taxes by $1.00 per pack or more; and
  3. Maintain funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
During the 2018 legislative session, one victory in the fight to reduce tobacco use was registered when Senate Bill 134 was passed by the legislature, making all ten University of Hawaii campuses tobacco-free, including electronic smoking devices.

Senate Bill 2654 would have added additional protections to prevent youth from purchasing electronic smoking devices and failed to pass. Senate Bill 2304 also failed, this legislation would have prohibited retailers from selling tobacco products within 750 feet of schools and playgrounds.

At the last-minute, and behind closed doors, a preemption provision was included likely at the request of the tobacco industry in House Bill 1895, a must pass bill to provide funding for kidney dialysis centers in the state. This provision preempts local governments from passing their own laws to reduce tobacco sales, including addressing candy-flavored tobacco products, and nullifies all existing local tobacco sales laws. Smoking is one of the major risk factors for kidney cancer, so ironically this legislation that will improve kidney dialysis treatment could also worsen prevention of kidney-related disease. The legislation does require retailers selling electronic smoking devices to register with the Attorney General and establishes some youth access restrictions.

During the 2019 legislative session, the main priority of the American Lung Association in Hawaii will be to work to remove the tobacco sales preemption that was added in 2018 to ensure local governments can enact policies to protect youth and their communities from tobacco

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