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Big Island raises tobacco age

December 21, 2013
The Associated Press

KAILUA-KONA (AP) - The Big Island mayor has signed a bill making it the only county in the state to ban tobacco sales to people younger than 21.

Mayor Billy Kenoi signed the bill Thursday raising the minimum age from 18. The measure will take effect July 1.

"This is really a very important piece of legislation because it speaks to our health, it speaks to quality of life of our children and it speaks to our priorities," Kenoi said.

The measure penalizes retail stores for selling tobacco products to underage customers, West Hawaii Today reported.

Violations can result in a $500 fine for the first offense and up to $2,000 for subsequent offenses.

The bill contains a grandfather clause that allows those who are 18 before the law goes into effect to keep purchasing tobacco products, the mayor's office said.

The Hawaii County Council unanimously approved the bill in November.

Two Massachusetts towns and New York City have raised the legal age to buy tobacco to 21. Alabama, New Jersey and Utah have increased the age to 19.



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