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Cowden to introduce tobacco bill; Schatz legislation heads to president

The Kauai County Council is scheduled to meet at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Historic County Building. Tobacco laws and regulations are expected to be discussed, with a resolution set to be introduced by councilmember Felicia Cowden.

The bill urges the state to “repeal the statutory provisions preempting stricter county regulation of the sale of cigarettes, tobacco products, and electronic smoking devices” and explains the importance of allowing counties to have their own tobacco control laws and regulations. The council believes if all counties have the right to regulate the sale or use of cigarettes, tobacco products, electronic smoking devices, it will help resolve a public health problem, according to Cowden’s resolution.

The state has authority over tobacco use and passed Bill 1895 in 2018 that declares that all sales of cigarettes, tobacco products, and electronic smoking devices are a statewide concern and it prevents counties from regulating their own tobacco laws.

Meanwhile, U.S. Brian Schatz introduced a bill that’s expected to be signed by President Donald Trump this week. The bill would prohibit the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21 and has been included in a bipartisan spending deal announced by congressional leaders Monday.

“This is a big win for public health,” Schatz said.

According to the press release from Schatz, “Every day, approximately 1,300 people die from smoking-related diseases, making tobacco the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Research from the National Academy of Medicine shows that raising the minimum legal age of sale of tobacco products to 21 nationwide would reduce the number of new tobacco users, decrease smoking frequency by 12 percent, and save more than 220,000 lives from deaths related to smoking.”

Hawaii was the first to raise the smoking age from 18 to 21 in 2015.

Cowden, contacted Monday by TGI, deferred comment to Valerie Saiki, Kauai coordinator for the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii, a program under the Hawaii Public Health Institute.

Saiki wrote that she supports the resolution.

“Currently there are no plans to immediately change any policies in regards to the sales of tobacco products, but with a youth epidemic on the rise as well as developing health concerns, the county may need to step forward in order to protect our community,” she wrote in an email. “Passing this resolution will just allow Kauai the ability when the time comes versus waiting for the State to pass a blanketed law, which may take time.”

Also on the agenda:

w A request from managing director Michael Dahilig to deliver a presentation on the upcoming ‘Ohana Zone project at Pua Loke.

w The county attorney requesting council approval to expend additional funds up to $100,000 for special counsel’s continued services to represent the Planning Department in Transient Vacation Rental appeals and related matters.
Source: The Garden Island

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