I am happy to see that Gov. Neil Abercrombie has decided to call a special session to enact legislation to create marriage equality in Hawaii. I am surprised to learn that there is any doubt as to if this legislation will pass.
When you look at the composition of the Legislature in terms of Democrats and Republicans, this legislation should be a slam dunk. The membership of the Democratic Party of Hawaii has been absolutely unequivocal in terms of the party’s position on this issue. I would urge readers to go to the party website: www.hawaiidemocrats.org. Click on the link to the party’s platform.
On page 5, lines 228 to 230 of the platform, it clearly states the support of the party for marriage equality. I was a member of the state party convention that drafted this platform in 2012. The platform, as well as numerous specific resolutions in support of marriage equality, were passed by the hundreds of delegates in attendance by a landslide vote of support.
Any politician who considers themselves to be a Democrat should take a serious look at these results, if they have any doubt as to how to vote on this issue. How any politician can say with a straight face that this issue has not been sufficiently debated is beyond me. How many hours of testimony does it take to make up your mind?
Granting basic civil rights to all residents of the Aloha State should be a forgone conclusion.
I am writing in strong support of the proposed policy to raise the age of sale of tobacco products to 21. As former program coordinator of the American Lung Association of Hawaii, Hawaii Island Branch, I have seen firsthand the strong hold of nicotine addiction in our East Hawaii youth. I have witnessed one of East Hawaii’s finest BIIF volleyball athletes struggle with nicotine dependence, not able to quit smoking even though committed to the process of attempting to quit for several years. I have also heard stories from youth how older youth gave them their first cigarette, and they would purchase tobacco for them. Most heartbreaking is listening to a participant self disclose that they had been smoking cigarettes since they were 6 years old.
We know that most tobacco users start smoking or using other forms of tobacco in their early teens. On the Big Island, the smoking rate among young adults, ages 18 to 24, is more than double that of youth aged 12 to 17. Until the age of 18, young tobacco users are identified as experimenters. They have access to, and use, relatively small amounts of tobacco irregularly. Raising the age of sale will not stop youth from experimenting. However, at age 18, experimenters risk becoming addicted as their ability to purchase and use tobacco products becomes unlimited. If we can delay the age (from 18 to 21) at which young adults are able to purchase tobacco products, we can reduce the likelihood that experimentation will turn into addiction.
For the sake and health of our youth residents, please join together in support of this effort to reduce the harmful, long-term effects of tobacco in our Big Island community.
Coordinator, Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii — East Hawaii