CUH students react to new smoking age


Waihilo Chartrand

Chaminade student smokes in designated area on campus.

By Waihilo Chartrand, Staff Writer

Chaminade senior Aris Spring does not smoke cigarettes. Yet he opposes the new Hawaii law, that came into effect on Jan. 1, that mandates the age limit of tobacco and e-cigarettes to be 21 years or older.

“I don’t agree with it,” said 22-year-old Aris Spring from Guam. “If you can buy a gun that is made to kill things, join the Army and legally kill people, or drive a car that kills thousands (of people) a year, I don’t see why you can’t buy cigarettes that have the potential to kill yourself.”

Hawai‘i is the first state in the country to raise the legal smoking age to 21.

Chaminade students have had mixed reactions to the new tobacco law.

Previously, anyone 18 or older were allowed to buy and use tobacco products. Making the legal age 21 has caused a lot of controversy in regards to tobacco usage among teenagers. For example, one month ago, a 18-year-old could legally buy cigarettes but is now barred from doing so for the next three years.

“I feel that it is pretty wrong because those people who are already smoking and may be using tobacco products are now cut off and could face some addictive problems,” said 19-year-old Masa Swain, a California native who uses an e-cigarette. “On the flip side, it’s a step in the right direction for choice making among teens, but still I don’t agree with how they just changed it automatically. They should have eased into it better.”

Kaleb Gilmore, an 18-year-old Chaminade freshman from Kailua, is frustrated with the new law. He owns an e-cigarette but now can’t legally purchase any liquids for it. Instead of the current law, he said he felt there should be an exception to people who have already turned 18 and were legally purchasing tobacco products.

Not all are against this law, a couple non-smokers agree with the legal age being 21.

“I think it’s a positive thing, and hopefully it will decrease the amount of underage smokers or even decrease the amount of people who smoke and buy cigarettes in general,” said Shana Kawakami, a non-smoking senior at Chaminade. “It’ll be a hassle to buy cigarettes, get cigarettes if you’re underage.”

If underage customers are caught trying to purchase any tobacco products by police, they will be fined $10 for the first offense. Retail stores caught selling to those younger than 21 will face a $500 fine as the first offense. Fines will increase for any other violations.

Many places will have signs about the new law and will also have to remind the underage customers who smoke their e-cigarettes that it is prohibited, even in restaurants. The U.S. Army and Navy made the announcement that they will carry through with the smoking law as well.

However, this law excludes anyone who is aboard any U.S. naval craft due to federal jurisdiction laws.