Massachusetts Towns Raise Cigarette-Buying Age to 21

One includes e-cigarettes, another bans tobacco sales in drug stores

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DANVERS & KINGSTON, Mass. -- Two Massachusetts towns have joined the ranks of those that have agreed to increase the legal age to buy cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 to 21, among other limits and bans.

The Kingston, Mass., Board of Health adopted the new tobacco regulations Monday night, according to a Kingston Reporter report.

Only one member of the five-member board, Toni Cushman, voted against the ban, saying, “At 18 you are an adult,” according to the report. “You have a choice and can make your own decision.”

New board member David Kennedy, however, said he supported regulating the legal age because while 18- to 20-year-olds may be considered adults, it’s the responsibility of the Board of Health to adopt regulations based on health impacts, and studies on addiction support that.

“To me it’s about addiction,” he said. “To me it doesn’t matter if it’s a regular cigarette or a regular cigar, a flavored cigarette or a flavored cigar, or any tobacco product. It should not matter.”

The Kinston board also voted to limit the number of stores in town that can sell tobacco products. At this time there are 18 licensed establishments.

Board members also agreed to prohibit the sale of tobacco products within 500 feet of schools but had differences of opinion on whether to restrict the sale of flavored tobacco products and blunt wraps (hollowed out cigars typically used to make marijuana cigarettes).

The vote was 3-2 against restricting the sale of flavored tobacco products. The vote was 3-2 in favor of restricting blunt wraps.

Store owners and managers and New England Retailer’s Association Executive Director Steve Ryan argued against the bans and limits, saying their businesses would suffer with the change.

Meanwhile, the Danvers, Mass., Board of Health also agreed to raise the minimum age to buy cigarettes, e-cigarettes and other tobacco products in town from 18 to 21. They have also banned sales at health care and education institutions and retailers with pharmacies like Walgreens according report in the Salem News.

The amended tobacco control regulations go into effect July 1.

Smoking-cessation products are exempt from the new rules.