LIHUE — Kapaa High School senior Aliyah Cummings is determined to be part of the tobacco-free solution.
Friday night, she was joined by her friend Mahina Rodero-Workman and Valerie Saiki of the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii in manning a tobacco education table for the National Kick But Day observance.
“Continued tobacco education is my senior project,” Cummings said. “I’ve done an expo at school with signage and other materials, and the National Kick Butt program is part of the senior project.”
During the evening, young people stopped by the table, took a pledge not to be a “replacement smoker,” signed petitions, and became part of a contest to win prizes.
“The tobacco companies are depending on the teens,” Cummings said.”They are marketing their products at the young people and depend on them to ‘replace’ adult smokers who are quitting.”
Cummings signed a pledge not to be a replacement smoker, and asked shoppers passing by to join her in the crusade against young people bending to the tobacco companies’ marketing.
Saiki said tobacco education is the path taken by the Coalition for Tobacco-Free Hawaii in getting people to stop smoking or to prevent people from starting to smoke.
The coalition is in support of HB 385 and the similar SB 1030 at the Legislature which increases the minimum age in which one can purchase any tobacco products and electronic smoking device to 21 years old.
But it does not support SB 550 which prohibits possession or consumption of tobacco products, including electronic smoking devices, by any person under 18 years old in public places, she said.
Saiki said the reason for the opposition is it does not want to criminalize young smokers.
They need to be educated and make the choice not to smoke.
HB 385 was defeated by one vote Thursday, Saiki said. The SB 1030 has a hearing scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.