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Hawaii raises smoking age to 21; military supports new law

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HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii is the first state in the nation to raise the legal smoking age to 21. The new law, which includes both traditional and electronic cigarettes, goes into effect Jan. 1.

Public health officials are hoping they’ll keep young people from developing an unhealthy addiction. They say one in four high school students in Hawaii try their first cigarette every year.

Several military bases in Hawaii expressed their support of the move. A Navy spokesman says it’s a fitness and readiness issue.

But critics say that if someone is old enough to die defending their country, they’re old enough to make a decision about smoking.

Officials will be educating the public, including tourists, for the first three months, so warnings will be handed out instead of fines.

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