Hawaii is the first U.S. state to propose a complete ban against the sale of cigarettes.

Rep. Richard Creagan’s proposed bill aims to ban the sale of cigarettes in the state completely by 2024 – gradually increasing the minimum age required to purchase cigarettes to 100 years of age over the course of the next five years.

According to part one of the bill, the legislature finds that the cigarette is the “deadliest artifact in human history,” killing half its long-term users.

The legislature also finds that smoking has killed 100 million people in the 20th century and is expected to kill around one billion more in the 21st century. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarettes are the leading cause of preventable disease, death and disability in the U.S.

“Basically, we essentially have a group who are heavily addicted — in my view, enslaved by a ridiculously bad industry — which has enslaved them by designing a cigarette that is highly addictive, knowing that it is highly lethal. And, it is,” Creagan told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald.

Creagan, who is also an emergency room physician, says the ultimate goal of the bill is to increase the quality of life in Hawaii and take responsibility for the products being offered by the government, especially amongst minors.

“The state is obliged to protect the public’s health. We don’t allow people free access to opioids, for instance, or any prescription drugs,” Creagan said.

“This is more lethal, more dangerous than any prescription drug, and it is more addicting. In my view, you are taking people who are enslaved from a horrific addiction, and freeing people from horrific enslavement. We, as legislators, have a duty to do things to save people’s lives. If we don’t ban cigarettes, we are killing people.”

Cigarette regulations have always been tough in Hawaii. A smoke-free environment law was passed in 2006 making it illegal to smoke in enclosed/partially enclosed areas, outdoor recreational settings and transportation related areas. In 2016, Hawaii became the first state to raise its minimum age of legal access (MLA) to 21.

Previous efforts to ban cigarettes have led Hawaii to increase taxes because the tax revenue earned from cigarette sales currently supports many important functions and services. Since the revenue will need time to be replaced, the state believes the best solution is a gradual ban to allow for the necessary adjustment of revenue sources.

The bill states that while other combustible tobacco products such as cigars are also harmful, smoke from these products are usually not inhaled and they are therefore less harmful than cigarettes. The legislature finds that non-combustible tobacco products are generally less harmful than cigarettes. Further, e-cigarettes differ from regular cigarettes in that they have a much lower carcinogenic potential than cigarettes and are excluded from this Act.

The bill, HB 1509, progressively bans the sale of cigarettes by raising the minimum age required to purchase cigarettes, but not other tobacco products or electronic smoking devices, to 30 years of age in 2020, 40 years of age in 2021, 50 years of age in 2022, 60 years of age in 2023, and then 100 years of age in 2024.

For more information about HB 1509, click here