Massachusetts Considering Increase of Tobacco Buying Age
Authorities in Boston are discussing the idea to increase the legal age to purchase cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 to 21. At the same time, lawmakers in Massachusetts are considering the possibility to make such a law statewide.
Almost 60 senators and representatives have signed a bill which would make it illegal to seel tobacco products to those under 21. The bill imposes penalties for violations starting from $100 to $300.
The Legislature’s Public Health Committee plans in 2016 to improve the bill.
In past years it became clear that most effective way to prevent teens and kids from starting smoking is to increase legal age to buy cigarettes.
Needham, the suburb of Boston, ten years ago first in the USA raised minimum age to buy cigarettes to 21. Then a number of other cities in Massachusetts followed its example.
The idea to increase tobacco buying age belongs to Mayor Marty Walsh. According to Boston’s Board of Health, the hearing on the proposed bill will take place on December 17. The bill bans sale of all nicotine products (cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, e-cigarettes) to those under 21. In case it would be adopted, it will comes into effect in February 2016.
There is a number of cities and communities in the USA which already have such a bill.
In the New York City minimum smoking age is 21 since 2013. Hawaii followed its example and became first American state with such a bill.
A research by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies found that 90% of regular smokers started to use cigarettes before the age of 19, therefore the bill raising age to 21 will help to reduce this rate.
However, there exists a strong opposition to the bill in Massachusetts. The talk is about businesses who say they would be affected by the change. The Coalition for
Responsible Retailing told that the proposed Boston ordinance was “unjustified and misguided,” and as a result it fails to address common problem of underage smoking. They consider that there should be found other ways to prevent youth from smoking.