Massachusetts Moves Closer to Joining Tobacco 21 Movement
BOSTON — Massachusetts is on the verge of becoming the sixth state to raise the legal minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21.
The state Senate and House of Representatives approved a compromise measure bringing Tobacco 21 across the state. The bill now awaits Gov. Charlie Baker's signature. The governor previously supported the effort, according to The Associated Press.
Currently, five other states prohibit the sale of tobacco products to consumers under 21: Hawaii, California, New Jersey, Oregon and most recently, Maine.
Efforts to increase the legal age to buy tobacco at the state level have been ongoing for the past two years. Tobacco 21 measures have found more success at the local level and as of May 9, more than 175 cities and counties in Massachusetts have enacted related legislation.
Needham was the first town in the state to raise the age in 2005.
The state bill prohibits the sale of tobacco products to consumers under 21. However, it does not make it illegal for minors to use tobacco or make it a crime for a parent or adult to give a tobacco product to a minor.
If signed by the governor, the new age would be phased in over three years.
According to the AP, the bill also bans vaping on school grounds and other public places, and would make Massachusetts the first U.S. state to outlaw the sale of tobacco in all pharmacies.
At the request of retailers, lawmakers added a provision to the bill that would prevent any city or town from moving to raise the tobacco purchasing age any higher than 21.