Anti-vaping activists in Hawaii have finally succeeded in passing a ban of flavored vaping and tobacco products, after many years of trying. The state House Tuesday passed an amended version of HB 1570 by a vote of 36-15. The bill passed the state Senate earlier.
The bill will now go to Governor David Ige to be signed into law (or vetoed). If Ige signs the bill—as expected—it will take effect July 1, and Hawaii will become the fifth U.S. state to prohibit flavored vapes.
The law would prohibit sales of all tobacco and nicotine-containing products in flavors other than tobacco, including vaping products, cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, and nicotine pouches and lozenges. The flavor ban includes menthol, but provides an exemption for nicotine products authorized through the FDA’s PMTA pathway—although the FDA has so far not authorized any menthol-flavored vape products.
The PMTA exemption—a Senate amendment—and other amendments proposed in the House (but later dropped) caused some anti-vaping interest groups to back away from HB 1570. Bill sponsor Representative Scot Z. Matayoshi says he will introduce a bill in the next House session to remove the exemption.
“We have tried for years, in this chamber, to pass any kind of flavored vaping ban or restriction,” Matayoshi said before the final vote. “And we stand here now … about to give our kids some kind of hope that they don’t have to be addicted to nicotine for the rest of their lives.”
The law, if signed by the governor, will impose a $500 fine for first-time violators, and $500-2,000 fines for additional offenses. The law would also penalize retailers that mislabel nicotine-containing products as nicotine-free.
The Hawaii legislature considered multiple flavor ban bills this session. CASAA issued calls to action for two of them, including HB 1570 in February. The bill also drew strong opposition from vaping businesses in Hawaii, including pioneering manufacturer and retailer Volcano.
“Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of everything that our industry sells to adult consumers, legally with age verification, is flavored products,” Volcano CEO Scott Rasak told Honolulu Civil Beat. “We’re talking about hundreds of businesses, thousands of jobs.”
Massachusetts became the first state to ban flavored vapes in November 2019, followed within weeks by New Jersey, Rhode Island and New York. California passed a flavor ban in August 2020, but the law is on hold until voters decide whether to approve the ban in a November 2022 referendum.