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Smoking now legal at 21 as state becomes 1st in US to implement law

The law takes effect on January 1, 2016, and will also ban the sale, purchase or use of electronic cigarettes for those under the age of 21.

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Hawaii has become the first United States state to raise the smoking age to 21, this is after state governor  signed a bill raising the legal smoking age on Friday.

According to Governor David Ige  in a statement,

"Raising the minimum age as part of our comprehensive tobacco control efforts will help reduce tobacco use among our youth and increase the likelihood that our keiki (children) will grow up to be tobacco-free,"

Governor Ige also signed a bill banning smoking and e-cigarette use at state parks and beaches, acts already banned in all city and county parks other than of Kaua'i County.

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Most US states set the legal smoking age at 18, while a handful have set it higher at 19.

Some cities and counties, including New York City and Hawaii County, have already raised the smoking age to 21 while lawmakers in Washington state and California have also pushed to raise the legal smoking age to 21 in recent months.

According to the Hawaii's governor's office, roughly nine out of 10 smokers start before the age of 21 and many report receiving cigarettes from friends or relatives of legal age.

The Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids said that tobacco use kills 1,400 people and costs some $526 million in medical bills annually in Hawaii.

Meanwhile, researchers have found that raising the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21 or 25 years old would significantly reduce smoking and tobacco-related illnesses in the country.

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Also, a majority of US adults support raising the legal age to 21.

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