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LETTER: Big Isle e-Cigarette Ordinance is Killing Smokers

June 5, 2014, 3:37 PM HST
* Updated June 6, 11:23 AM
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New Hawaii County ordinance 13-124 takes effect July 1 2014. This new law prohibits people 18-20 from purchasing tobacco products from retailers on The Big Island.

The new law also prohibits adults 18-20 from purchasing products that DO NOT CONTAIN TOBACCO OR NICOTINE, that help with a series of respiratory ailments.

I am a tobacco retailer and am 100% for keeping kids off of tobacco. However I do have a problem with lawmakers who make laws that are poorly written, confusing, unfair, and cause harm to the public. 13-124 is one of these laws.

On June 2, 2014 I attended a question and answer session about 13-124 with County Of Hawaii and Coalition for a Tobacco Free Hawaii representatives. The meeting was a big disappointment. Why? Because most of my questions about this new law went unanswered.

Here are some the FAILS with 13-124.

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FAIL #1: Included in the new law restricts sales of Ecigs (electronic cigarettes) and Eliquid (electronic cigarette liquid) to persons 18-20. The law prohibits the sale of eliquid containing nicotine and eliquid with no nicotine. I asked why was eliquid containing no nicotine prohibited? The answer I got from a Tobacco Free Hawaii rep was because “tests” have shown that eliquid labeled with no nicotine have indeed included nicotine. What tests!? What research!? I am guessing the rep read an article on Google and got the information from there. After all if it is on Google it must be true! I have diabetics that use ecigs to taste sweet flavors via flavored eliquid with no nicotine. With 13-124 diabetics aged 18-20 are no longer able to purchase these. Why is the County Of Hawaii denying diabetic adults 18-20 from their freedom to enjoy themselves?

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FAIL #2: I have been selling Ecigs since 2009. I have personally have seen hundreds of customers greatly benefit from switching to a healthier alternative Ecigs. These customers tell me stories of how they greatly reduced or totally stopped tobacco use. They tell me of all the great things they can do because of this like being able to taste food, breathing easier, being able to play with their kids and grand kids, and may more positive outcomes. Most of these customers tell me of how nothing else such as Nicotine patches, nicotine gum, acupuncture, hypnosis and others worked to help them. What helped them? Ecigs! With the new law in place people 18-20 who are currently using tobacco cigarettes will not have access a healthier alternative Ecigs! In other words thanks to the County of Hawaii & The Coalition for a Tobacco Free Hawaii people 18-20 are now not able to get a proven effective healthier effective to smoking.

FAIL # 3: Electronic smoking devices are used to help many serious respiratory ailments including asthma. Customers come to our stores to purchase electronic smoking devices and natural herbs such as damiana and mullein. These herbs are used in Ecigs and help people with respiratory problems. 13-124 has restricted the sale of these devices to people 18-20. If you are 18-20 sorry we can no longer help you. You will have to buy your devices online or off island. CRAZY!

How can all of this happen? A lack of real research? A lack understanding? Incompetence? Not asking users and specialist of these products the pros and cons? I say all of the above. Plain and simple the County of Hawaii & The Coalition for a Tobacco Free Hawaii are killing smokers.

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