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Posted: Monday, March 10th, 2014 11:25 AM HST

Hawaii lawmakers move to curtail smoking

By Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) Hawaii lawmakers have killed proposals aimed at raising the legal age for buying tobacco to 21 and clamping down on smoking at beaches statewide. But they're advancing bills that would restrict smoking and make it more expensive, continuing a trend in Hawaii to crack down on smoking in public places.

Rep. Karl Rhoads introduced HB2577, which would confine smoking in public housing to designated areas at least 25 feet from buildings. Chronic violators could be evicted.

Rhoads says the measure, which passed the House, is aimed at preventing secondhand smoke from affecting sick people and kids in buildings where the units share ventilation systems.

The Senate passed SB2222, which would prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol. Another successful Senate bill, SB2495, would regulate and tax electronic smoking devices much the same as tobacco. It also would restrict the use of those devices in workplaces and in public.

While electronic smoking devices deliver nicotine without the carcinogenic miasma of tobacco smoke, the devices are under scrutiny because of their reputed appeal to teenagers. A study published last week in JAMA Pediatrics found that young people who "vape," or use electronic cigarettes, are more likely to take up real smoking.

This legislative session hasn't been all bad news for smokers. Bills that would've outlawed tobacco sales to anyone younger than 21 have stalled.

A bill to ban smoking and tobacco use on the University of Hawaii premises didn't survive the House.

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