Maui News

Ige Vetoes Bill Repealing Tobacco Prevention Funds

July 7, 2021, 5:15 PM HST
* Updated July 7, 5:51 PM
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Governor David Ige. PC: Office of the governor. (7.6.21)

Governor Ige yesterday vetoed HB1296, a bill that would have repealed the Hawaiʻi Tobacco Prevention and Control Trust Fund to fill budget shortfalls. The bill was sent back to the house — along with his 26 vetoes announced yesterday — citing the state’s improved financial situation.

Ige said HB1296 – Relating to State Funds was objectionable for two major reasons.

First, he said the bill would eliminate the “dedicated, long-term funding arrangement for tobacco prevention programs” and could result in “negative public health impacts and higher health care costs.”

Second, he said that the bill would “eliminate the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center’s ability to conduct research and cancer center operations with cigarette tax moneys, significantly increasing costs for the UH to maintain its existing operation and programs.”

“Over the last twenty years, these programs have helped prevent youth from initiating smoking, have reduced the number of residents who smoke, and have reduced tobacco-use-related healthcare expenditures by over one billion dollars,” Ige said in the Statement of Objections yesterday.

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The Trust Fund is responsible for funding most tobacco control and prevention activities in the state, including the Hawaiʻi Tobacco Quitline, community cessation services, and youth e-cigarette prevention programs. 

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“We have seen first-hand the impact of these funds over the past two decades: Hawaii’s adult smoking rate decreased from a peak of 20.5% in 2001 to a low of 12.3% in 2019,” said Lola Irvin of the Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Division, Hawaiʻi State Department of Health.

Jessica Yamauchi, CEO of Hawaiʻi Public Health Institute felt the veto was a win for those against the tobacco industry.

“Nearly one in three Hawai‘i high school students are currently using e-cigarettes,” she said. “Funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs is just one part of the solution – we also need comprehensive policies that regulate e-cigarettes in the same manner as all other tobacco products.”

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For more on Gov. Ige’s veto list, click here.

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