We must move nationwide to outlaw tobacco smoking

I agree with the Jan. 5 editorial applauding Hawaii for requiring smokers to be 21. But the editorial was much the same we’ve heard since the 1964 surgeon general’s report on smoking. The most important finding since that landmark report is that there is no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke, none.

If someone smells tobacco smoke, they’ve ingested a carcinogen, one with no safe level of ingestion. Remember this when you smell tobacco smoke on the beach, in parks or in parking lots.

One big-box Maui store not only sells cigarettes but allows its employees to hack on cancer sticks in the parking lot outside the store’s entrance. Customers can’t avoid the toxic fallout. This store needs to prohibit all smoking in the parking lot, and needs to follow CVS Pharmacy, which stopped selling tobacco nationwide.

The editorial’s writer said low-tar, low-nicotine cigarettes helped them stop smoking, and this might be a way to cut smoking rates. But studies show such cigarettes only make most smokers inhale more smoke, more deeply, so may be worse than regular cigarettes.

What cuts smoking rates is raising taxes on cigarettes, making them more expensive. Hawaii should do just that, every year.

Hawaii should also raise the smoking age three more years. After age 24, raise it to 27. We must move nationwide to fully outlaw tobacco smoking. This can be done without making criminals out of present smokers, and it’s the only solution to this calamity killing 450,000 Americans yearly.

Jerome Kellner

Kahului

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