Hawaii Flavored Vape Ban to be Passed
This past Tuesday, a law, which will ban flavored vape and tobacco products in Hawaii, has just passed the House of Representatives with a vote of 36-15. The revised HB 1507 will move forward to Governor David Ige's desk where it will be signed into law or vetoed. It has already passed through the Senate and Ige's decision will be the final ruling.
Hawaii has a rising epidemic of teen vaping among middle and high school students and this bill is an effort to combat teenage vaping. The ban would prohibit the sale of most flavored tobacco products in Hawaii stores including vapes, cigarettes, cigars, pouches, and lozenges. The primary target are fruit, dessert, and sweet flavored e-cigarettes, but will also include menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars.
An exemption was added to HB 1507 that allows for the sale of products that are FDA approved. So far, this includes NJOY and Vuse vaping products as they are the only major brands authorized by the FDA. Representative Scot Z. Matayoshi is not in favor of the exemption and if the law passes, he will introduce a bill to remove the exemption.
If Governor Ige signs this law, retailers will be penalized for mislabeling products containing nicotine as nicotine-free. Fines will be imposed of $500 for first-time violators and $500-$2,000 for additional offenses.
Although this law is aimed at protecting youth from flavored vapes, it will have catastrophic consequences for Hawaii's legal vaping industry. Vape shop owners have been battling the Hawaii Public Health Institute for years over numerous tobacco ban attempts. Now with the flavored vaping ban passing through the House of Representatives, one vape shop owner has had enough.
Scott Rasak is the Chief Operating Officer of Volcano, a vape shop chain with 16 stores all over Hawaii. As a strong advocate for the tobacco industry, he opposes the flavor ban on vaping products. He claims that HB 1507 is a "step backward for public health and adult access to harm reduction" as it will take away from an "age-verified legal pathway."
Rasak believes it will lead to flavored vape products being sold on the black market, leading to no age verification, making a larger problem with youth access. On the other hand, Matayoshi argues that children won't be able to afford black market products since they have little access to money. Regardless of their opposition, they are both for keeping vapes out of youth's hands.
Despite sharing a common goal, Rasak states that the ban is an "overreach of government in the ability for adult consumers to make their own choices and a failure at the state in enforcing the already 21 and over the law" which already exist for smoking and tobacco products. The industry keeps enforcing laws to protect children but they still get them. Vape shop owners argue that they are following all age guidelines and flavored products are not the issue.
Ultimately, the fate of Hawaii's vaping industry is in the hands of Governor Ige. Public health advocates want to keep flavored vaping products out of schools and are heavily pushing for this law to pass. On the other hand, vape owners will face job loss and bankruptcy. The real loss will be that adult vape smokers will lose their safe alternative to cigarettes. Hopefully, the governor will stand by the vaping community and veto this bill.
If you would like to stop the flavor ban in Hawaii, visit the CASAA website. The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA) has the latest updates and history of the HB1507 bill. Not only do they provide the current status of the bill, but they also have a form where you can send a letter to the governor to urge him to veto the ban. They provide tips to include in comments, phone calls, and testimonies when protesting this bill. It is a great source to help save flavored vapes in Hawaii!