By Tommy Noyes

My Life, My Quit is a national initiative sponsored locally by the Hawai‘i Public Health Institute. Their Coalition for a Tobacco Free Hawai‘i has been dedicated to reducing tobacco use through education, policy and advocacy since 1996, and currently assists youth and their families overcome nicotine use.

Hawai‘i is in the midst of a youth vaping epidemic. In Hawai‘i, one in three high-school students, and one in five middle school students report current use of electronic smoking devices (ESDs).

Thanks to many individuals’ dedication to reversing Hawai‘i’s youth vaping epidemic, Senate Bill 3118 was written to prohibit flavors in all tobacco products. It was making its way through committees in the Hawai‘i State Senate when this story was written.

“A major way to address youth tobacco use is to prohibit the sale of flavors that attract youth in the first place, and discourage them from trying these products,” wrote Scott Stensrud, Statewide Youth Coordinator, Hawai‘i Public Health Institute (“HIPHI”) in an e-mail alert. “With eight in ten kids starting with a flavored tobacco product, it is imperative to address young people’s use of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, by prohibiting the sale of flavors that attract youth in the first place and discouraging them from trying these products. If enacted as originally written, this legislation will remove the thousands of fruit- and candy-flavored tobacco products, as well as menthol cigarettes, that are addicting our keiki.”

If you are concerned that steadily increasing numbers of Hawai‘i’s youth are now addicted to nicotine through the use of ESDs, please consider submitting testimony supporting SB 3118. This bill was written to remove thousands of flavored tobacco products and e-liquids that are addicting our keiki.

Visit www.HIPHI.org for the current status of this bill, companion anti-tobacco bills, and ongoing advocacy efforts to protect Hawai‘i’s keiki. Legislation is a convoluted process. Before composing and submitting your testimony, keep in mind that the language of bills is frequently changed by our legislators. As of late February, the original intent of SB 3118 had already been diluted, and at that time, HIPHI requested testimony calling for an amendment restoring SB 3118 bill to its original intent of ensuring that all tobacco products are included, not just ESDs.

Changing tobacco policies legislatively is time-consuming and uncertain. It will be hard-fought by corporate interests seeking to maximize profits from their next generation of nicotine consumers. Many people want help now with quitting or assisting their child to avoid or stop vaping.

On Kaua‘i, Valerie Saiki heads up Tobacco Free Kaua‘i, part of the Coalition for a Tobacco Free Hawai‘i.

“Parents and family members often ask me how to help their youth quit tobacco or vape products,” Saiki said. “We need to implement tobacco education to prevent youth from starting, and to provide access to cessation programs for youth who want to quit.”

Saiki said many teens and pre-teens ask how they can help their friends to quit tobacco. “My Life, My Quit is one resource that teens can use for nicotine freedom,” she said.

My Life, My Quit is a free, confidential quit-line for teens who want to quit smoking or vaping. Visit https://hawaii.mylifemyquit.org/ or text “Start My Quit” to 36072 to enroll.

This writer serves with Tobacco Free Kaua‘i and welcomes your feedback. Call/text 808 639-1018.

  • Tommy Noyes is Kaua‘i Path’s executive director, a League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructor and active with the Kaua‘i Medical Reserve Corps.

 

 

 

 


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