Massachusetts on Path to Tobacco 21

State may become sixth to raise legal smoking age

BOSTON -- Massachusetts could become the sixth state to raise the legal age for buying tobacco products to 21. Its House of Representatives recently approved a larger measure aimed at curbing teenage tobacco use, according to the Associated Press.

If the measure becomes law, Massachusetts will join California, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey and Oregon in raising the tobacco-buying age from 18 to 21.

Other elements of the bill include a ban on vaping on school grounds and other public places, and a prohibition that would keep pharmacies and stores within healthcare facilities from selling tobacco products.

Massachusetts is already leading all the other states in the number of municipalities moving to the age-21 threshold, with 171 localities having done so, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. The next highest state is New Jersey with 28 municipalities, followed by Illinois at 20 and New York with 19.

With the 146-4 vote in the House on May 9, the bill now goes to the Senate, which has a history of passing similar legislation. AP reported that Gov. Charlie Baker has hinted at his likely support.

If the proposal becomes law, the Massachusetts bill would take effect Jan. 1, 2019. It would not apply to anyone who is already 18 by that date, AP reported.

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