Some smokers in Hawaii might find themselves waiting a long time before they light up, as a bill has been introduced to bar the sale of cigarettes to anyone under 100 years old.
The proposed law, introduced by local Democratic representative Richard Creagan, would effectively amount to a cigarette ban by 2024.
It seeks to gradually increase the age of cigarette-buying to 30 by next year, 40 in 2021, 50 in 2022, 60 in 2023, and finally 100 in 2024.
The bill, which has two other sponsors, is expected to be heard this week by the House Health Committee.
Speaking to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, Mr Creagan, an emergency room doctor, said: "The state is obliged to protect the public’s health."
He added: “We don’t allow people free access to opioids, for instance, or any prescription drugs.
“This is more lethal, more dangerous than any prescription drug, and it is more addicting. In my view, you are taking people who are enslaved from a horrific addiction, and freeing people from horrific enslavement. We, as legislators, have a duty to do things to save people’s lives. If we don’t ban cigarettes, we are killing people.”
Smoking rate are falling in most of the world- except the Middle East and Africa
Although Hawaii already has some of the strictest smoking laws in in the country, Mr Creagan does not believe the current policies are doing enough to discourage people from smoking.
“It’s slowing it down, but it’s not stopping the problem,” Mr Creagan said.
In 2015 Hawaii became the first US state to increase the legal smoking age for cigarettes and electronic cigarettes to 21. In the same year, governor David Ige signed a bill banning smoking and electronic cigarette use at state parks and beaches, acts already banned in all city and county parks.
Creagan is not the only one supporting tough smoking laws. Democratic Senator Dru Kanuha also introduced a bill to raise the excise tax on cigarettes from 16 cents to 21 cents, in July, to raise funds for health programmes.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the US, accounting for more than 480,000 deaths per year.