Smoking Costs the Average Hawaii Smoker $2,186,781 Over a Lifetime

With Tobacco-Free Awareness Week reminding us of the societal and economic costs of smoking, which total more than $320 billion a year and rising, the personal finance website WalletHub today released its report on The True Cost of Smoking by State.

smoking and money

To encourage the more than 66 million tobacco users in the U.S. to kick the dangerous habit, WalletHub’s analysts calculated the potential monetary losses — including the cumulative cost of a cigarette pack per day over several decades, health care expenditures, income losses and other costs — brought on by smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.

The Financial Cost of Smoking in Hawaii (1=Lowest, 25=Avg.):

  • Out-of-Pocket Cost per Smoker – $164,538 (Rank: 49th)
  • Financial Opportunity Cost per Smoker – $1,555,886 (Rank: 49th)
  • Health-Care Cost per Smoker – $175,171 (Rank: 35th)
  • Income Loss per Smoker – $278,260 (Rank: 46th)
  • Other Costs per Smoker – $12,927 (Rank: 41st)
  • Total Cost Over a Lifetime per Smoker: $2,186,781

For the full report, please visit:

20th Annual Kick Butts Day in Hawaii

Kids in Hawaii will stand up to Big Tobacco on March 18 as they join thousands of young people nationwide for the 20th annual Kick Butts Day. More than 1,000 events are planned nationwide for this day of youth activism, sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. (See below for a list of local events.)

toll of tobaccoOn Kick Butts Day, kids encourage their peers to stay tobacco-free, demand that tobacco companies stop marketing deadly, addictive products to them and encourage elected officials to do more to reduce youth tobacco use.

This year, Kick Butts Day is focusing attention on how the tobacco industry still spends huge sums on marketing and is adopting new strategies to reach young customers. Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $8.8 billion a year – one million dollars every hour – to market tobacco products. In Hawaii, tobacco companies spend $26.9 million annually on marketing efforts. The industry’s tactics that entice kids include:

  • Splashy ads in magazines with large youth readership, such as Sports Illustrated, ESPN the Magazine and Rolling Stone.
  • Widespread advertising and price discounts in stores, which make tobacco products appealing and affordable to kids.
  • New, sweet-flavored tobacco products such as small cigars and electronic cigarettes. The latest surveys show that youth use of e-cigarettes has skyrocketed.

In addition to organizing events, kids are standing up to the tobacco industry on social media through the #NotAReplacement selfie campaign. The tobacco industry’s own documents reveal that they have long targeted kids as “replacement smokers” for the more than 480,000 people their products kill each year in the United States. Kids are taking selfies to say they’re not a replacement and sharing the photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the #NotAReplacement hashtag. (view the #NotAReplacement selfie gallery)

“On Kick Butts Day, kids stand up and reject Big Tobacco’s manipulative marketing,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “We can make the next generation tobacco-free and end the tobacco epidemic for good. Elected officials can help reach that goal by standing with kids and supporting proven strategies to prevent youth tobacco use, including higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free laws and prevention programs.”

Health advocates in Hawaii are urging state leaders to increase the legal sale age for tobacco products to 21 to reduce smoking and save lives. In Hawaii, tobacco use claims 1,400 lives and costs $526 million in health care bills each year. Currently, 10.4 percent of Hawaii’s high school students smoke.

On Kick Butts Day, kids engage in creative events that range from small classroom activities about the harmful ingredients in cigarettes to large rallies at state capitols.

In Hawaii, activities include:

Youth with the Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaii in Honolulu will hold a major event at the State Capitol to educate and empower their peers to advocate for a bill to raise the tobacco age of sale in the state to 21. Youth will create signs, post to social media, and meet with legislators in support of the bill. Time: 10 AM. Location: 415 S. Beretania Street, Honolulu. Contact: Mary Goldsworthy (509) 710-4298.

Students at Helemano School Age Center in Wahiawa will learn about the dangers of smoking and create a short phrase about staying tobacco-free to display in the youth center’s fence with cups. Time: 3 PM. Location: 327 Kuapale Road, Wahiawa. Contact: Rebecca Staggs (808) 653-0724.

The U.S. Army Hawaii Youth Sports in Honolulu will hold a day of activities for youth to stand up to tobacco, including a fun run, a dance performance to ‘Thriller’ and informational activities. Time: 11:30 AM. Location: 4725 Bougainville Drive, Honolulu. Contact: Brittany Bigham (808) 426-8790.

All events noted above are on March 18. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in Hawaii, visit Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at

Hawaii Health Advocates Mark 50th Anniversary of First Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health

As the United States marks the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health, Hawaii tobacco control advocates are applauding the enormous progress achieved in reducing smoking. However, they are also calling on state leaders to take strong action to continue the fight against what is still the nation’s number one cause of preventable death.


The first Surgeon General’s report, issued on Jan. 11, 1964, alerted Americans to the deadly consequences of smoking. This was a historic turning point in the nation’s fight against tobacco.

“In the past 50 years, the U.S. has made remarkable progress, cutting smoking rates by more than half, thereby protecting much of the population from harmful secondhand smoke and saving millions of lives,” said Lola Irvin, Tobacco Settlement Program manager. “Hawaii can take pride in the progress our state has made in tobacco control since the first SGR was issued.  Hawaii’s youth smoking rates are the second lowest, and adult rates the third lowest in the nation. Over the last ten years, smoking rates for youth went down about 60 percent and for adults almost 40 percent.”

But the battle against tobacco is far from over. Tobacco use still kills more than 440,000 Americans every year, sickens millions more and costs the nation $193 billion a year in health care bills and lost productivity.

Acting Health Director Gary Gill commented: “In Hawaii, an estimated 1,100 adults die annually from smoking, costing $336 million in related medical expenses. The Department of Health will continue its work with partners in Hawaii to prevent initiation of tobacco use by youth and young adults; promote quitting; eliminate involuntary exposure to secondhand smoke; and reduce tobacco-related disparities among population groups. Hawaii is one of only a handful of states that continues to use the master settlement agreement payments on tobacco prevention and control efforts.”

Gov. Neil Abercrombie noted the challenge of addressing the increasing use of new, unregulated products, such as electronic smoking devices or e-cigarettes: “Hawaii must remain vigilant about smoking behavior, especially as it influences our youth because we don’t want it to be an entryway into more dangerous smoking or drug use. On the 50th anniversary of the first Surgeon General’s report, it is time for our nation and Hawaii to end the smoking epidemic. We know how to do so, and we cannot afford to wait another 50 years.”

To learn more about the Surgeon General’s Report, The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years of Progress, go to Important Hawaii Milestones in Tobacco Prevention and Control

The following are highlights of important milestones that contributed to Hawaii’s successful reduction in tobacco use. The efforts were
achieved by partners across legislative, governmental, public and business sector organizations, and concerned community members
who worked to introduce and pass state and county policies on tobacco sales and use, and providing resources for communities to help people quit.
  • 1965:  The state tax on tobacco products was amended to 40% of the wholesale price
  • 1976:  Smoking in Public Places legislation (Act 108) passed by the state legislature prohibiting smoking and requiring signage for designated areas (e.g. elevators, auditoriums, meeting rooms, community centers)
  • 1978:  The Hawaii Department of Health developed states’ first governmental agency policy on smoking
  • 1988:  Sale of Tobacco Products to Minors legislation (Act 293) passed raising legal age from 15 to 18 years
  • 1991:  Hawaii Department of Education policy bans smoking in all departmental classrooms, facilities and activities. Act 253 passed by state legislature restricting placement of cigarette vending machines
  • 1997:  City and County of Honolulu prohibits smoking in all enclosed workplaces (except bars, restaurants, and nightclubs)
  • 1998:  Hawaii State Attorney General entered into master settlement agreement with 5 of the largest tobacco companies and 45 other states
  • 1999:  Hawaii establishes Tobacco Settlement Special Fund and Tobacco Prevention and Control Trust Fund. . Hawaii cigarette tax increased to $1/pack
  • 2005:  Hawaii Tobacco Quitline started
  • 2006:  Hawaii became 14th state to enact a Smoke-free Workplace and Public Places Law (Act 395) prohibiting smoking in all workplaces, including restaurants, bars, and nightclubs
  • 2008:  The Big Island passed an ordinance banning smoking in all county beaches, parks, and recreation areas, followed in 2010 with legislation prohibiting smoking in motor vehicles when a minor is present
  • 2011: Hawaii cigarette tax raised to $3.20/pack
  • 2013: Hawaii legislature passes law banning sales of electronic smoking devices to minors under 18 and requiring warning signage (Act 295). The Big Island increases the legal age to by tobacco products to 21
  • 2014:  Honolulu County enacts ordinance banning smoking at all beaches, parks, and bus stops on Oahu

Mayor Kenoi Signs Bill 135 Into Law – Law Targets Stores Selling Cigarettes to Folks Under 21

Mayor Billy Kenoi signed into law Bill 135 to raise the legal age of sale of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes to 21 in Hawai‘i County. A ceremonial signing of the bill was held today at the West Hawai‘i Civic Center at 3 p.m.

Representatives from the Coalition for Tobacco-Free Hawai'i and Kealakehe High School students who advocated for the measure joined Mayor Billy Kenoi and Councilman Dru Mamo Kanuha for a ceremonial signing of Bill 135.

Representatives from the Coalition for Tobacco-Free Hawai’i and Kealakehe High School students who advocated for the measure joined Mayor Billy Kenoi and Councilman Dru Mamo Kanuha for a ceremonial signing of Bill 135.

The Coalition For A Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i (CTFH) West Hawai‘i and East Hawai‘i Coalitions and staff from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids worked closely with West Hawai‘i Councilmember Dru Mamo Kanuha and his staff to pass this bill. Hawai‘i County Council unanimously passed Bill 135, nine to zero on November 20.

“I signed this bill for the benefit of our community, and most importantly, our kids,” said Mayor Kenoi. “Mahalo to Councilman Kanuha for hearing their voices and having the courage to follow through. With all of the known harmful effects of tobacco use, this measure is in the best interest of public health and safety.”

More than 40 students from Kealakehe High and Konawaena High attended the initial committee hearing on October 15 and the final reading on November 20, wearing t-shirts stating ‘One Good Reason’ with an arrow pointing up toward their face. Waiākea High students submitted nearly 300 pieces of written testimony.

“My commitment is to help our young people live longer and healthier lives than the generation who came before them, and to improve the overall health of our island,” Councilmember Kanuha said.

“We are deeply grateful to Councilmember Kanuha and his staff for creating a bill that was easy for the other councilmembers to support,” said Sally Ancheta, East Hawai‘i Coalition coordinator for CTFH. “We thank Mayor Kenoi for taking the initiative to protect our youth and supporting the many voices that came to testify.”

The ordinance will take effect on July 1, 2014 and will exempt people who reach the age of 18 before that date. Any person who distributes tobacco or electronic cigarette products to an underage customer will be subject to a fine of up to $2,000.

Nearly 1,200 Hawai‘i residents die each year from diseases that can be attributed to smoking, according to CTFH. Of those, more than 90 percent of them became daily tobacco users before the age of 18. For more information about the 21 reasons campaign, visit