House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and Representative RoseLee Vincent joined their colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives to pass legislation that seeks to reduce tobacco use and nicotine addiction among youth across the Commonwealth. An Act to protect youth from the health risks of tobacco and nicotine addiction (H.4479) will prohibit the sale of all tobacco, including nicotine delivery products, and other vapor products to individuals under the age of 21. Additionally, the bill expands Massachusetts’ Smoke-Free Workplace Law to include e-cigarettes and vapes, thereby ensuring that all tobacco and vapor products will be banned in establishments where the use of traditional tobacco is currently prohibited.
More than 170 cities and towns in Massachusetts have already raised the minimum sales age for tobacco products to 21 years old. With this legislation, Massachusetts will join five other states who have established a statewide minimum sales age of 21, including California, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, and Oregon. Needham, Mass. pioneered this movement in 2005 by becoming the first municipality in the country to raise the tobacco sales age to 21.
“I am proud to support the next step in our effort to curb tobacco use among children and young adults,” said Speaker DeLeo. “Our effort will strike a balance of protecting the health of our children, while creating stability for our retailers and not penalizing adult smokers.”
“I thank Speaker DeLeo and Chairwoman Hogan for their work on this, and I was proud to cast my vote for legislation which will deter and discourage young people from smoking,” said Representative Vincent. “Over time, we have come to know the real dangers of smoking, and I think raising the age to purchase cigarettes from 18 to 21 will help to get cigarettes away from high-school aged children. This is a great step in the right direction.”
- Ban healthcare institutions from selling tobacco products or vapor products;
- Prohibit the use of tobacco products or vapor products on school grounds and buses and at school-sponsored events;
- Restrict manufacturers or retailers from distributing free samples of tobacco products in commercial establishments, excluding in retail tobacco stores and smoking bars; and
- Codify in law the Attorney General’s regulations requiring child-resistant packaging for nicotine substances and containers.
Tobacco and nicotine use remain a leading cause of preventable illness and premature death in the Commonwealth, with more than $4 billion spent annually in Massachusetts on smoking-related healthcare costs. In 2012, the U.S. Surgeon General reported that 90 percent of smokers try smoking before age 18 and 75 percent of teen smokers continue to smoke into adulthood. Studies show the most effective way to lower smoking rates is to prevent teenagers from trying tobacco in the first place; the Institute of Medicine released a 2015 study that found that increasing the minimum age of legal access to tobacco products to 21 years old will prevent or delay initiation of tobacco use by adolescents and young adults.