Hawaii poised to become first state to raise smoking age to 21

According to the state Department of Heath, 5,600 kids in Hawaii try smoking each year, and 90 percent of daily smokers begin the habit before age 19. Meanwhile, 1,200 people die from tobacco use or exposure in Hawaii every year.

Opponents say it’s unfair that a military veteran returning from service could be prevented from smoking. “It is not right because you are deemed an adult when you turn 18,” said Michelle Johnston, owner of Sub Ohm Vapes in Kailua-Kona.

“You can sign up and be in the military and basically give your life for your country. You can vote,” she said. “Why shouldn’t you be able to choose if you want to buy tobacco products or vaping products, when you’re considered a legal adult?”