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Hawaii Bans Smoking Under 21 — Our island brothers and sisters have a valid basis


I have never been to Hawaii.  But as I understand it, “aloha” is used to say hello and goodbye.  And starting soon, aloha will mean goodbye to cigarettes if you are under the age of 21, as last week Hawaii became the first state in the nation to ban smoking for people under 21.

Should other states follow Hawaii’s lead?  Consider:

Nicotine is a drug.  It is an addictive drug, and a highly addictive drug at that.  Nicotine is the addictive drug in cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

Based upon review of hundreds of thousands of pages of previously secret industry documents, there can no longer be any doubt that cigarettes were (and still are) engineered by the industry to deliver this highly addictive drug efficiently and potently .  In 1972, a Philip Morris executive described cigarettes as “among the most awe-inspiring examples of the ingenuity of man,” and described why:

  • The cigarette should be conceived not as a product but as a package.
  • The product is nicotine.
  • Think of the cigarette pack as a storage container for a day’s supply of nicotine.
  • Think of the cigarette as a dispenser for a dose unit of nicotine.
  • Think of a puff of smoke as the vehicle of nicotine.
  • Smoke is beyond question the most optimized vehicle of nicotine.
  • The cigarette is the most optimized dispenser of smoke.

Two sad young girls smoke

The design of its cigarettes by companies like R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris insures that the addictive drug nicotine gets into a smoker’s brain within 10 seconds of taking a puff.  .  Besides speed, cigarettes are intentionally designed to provide nicotine in “freebase” form to a smoker’s brain (i.e., smoking crack vs. powder cocaine).  Over the years, the main design changes implemented by the companies were those trying to increase the nicotine “kick” from a puff on a cigarette.

The average smoker takes 10 puffs on a cigarette and that means that the addictive drug nicotine is hitting a smoker’s brain not only extremely quickly, but also a lot of times.  And so when you think about those two basic concepts, how quickly an addictive drug gets into a person’s brain and how often a person exposes their brain to an addictive substance, it is easy to understand why cigarette smoking is so addictive.

In keeping with the “high-tech” revolution this country is in the midst of, e-cigarettes are battery operated devices that, like cigarettes, are designed to do one thing: deliver nicotine.  And while research into e-cigarettes is just starting to get underway, the nicotine content of e-cigarettes is comparable to the nicotine content in regular, light and ultra-light cigarettes.

Kids are the target of cigarette makers, and now kids are now the target of e-cigarette makers.  And the goal then is as it is now – hook kids on nicotine.

Because as one industry executive noted in 1974:

 First, let’s look at the growing importance of the young adult in the cigarette market.  In 1960, this young adult market, the 14-24 age group, represented 21% of the population.

They will represented 27% of the population in 1975.  They represent tomorrow’s cigarette business.  As this 14-24 age group matures, they will account for a key share of the total cigarette volume – for at least the next 25 years.

Or said another way, if you get them young, you have a good shot at having a customer for life.

Nicotine addiction is the most common form of addiction in the United States.  It most often begins as a pediatric disease. Each day, more than 3,200 people younger than 18 years of age smoke their first cigarette.

Regarding e-cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of middle and high school students using e-cigarettes tripled between 2013 and 2014.  And while over 3,000 kids try cigarettes for the first time each day, using e-cigarettes among teens has eclipsed the use of cigarettes and all other tobacco products.

Is there any good reason every other state should not follow Hawaii’s lead, and raise the age to legally purchase cigarettes and e-cigarettes to 21?

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Posted By: Bud Wilder