With the passage of final legislation by the Massachusetts Legislature last week, the Bay State is poised to become the sixth state in the nation to prohibit the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 21 years old. Gov. Charlie Baker has indicated his support for raising the tobacco age, and the bill awaits his signature.
In addition to raising the tobacco age to 21, the legislation also includes provisions prohibiting pharmacies from selling tobacco products and e-cigarettes. Massachusetts will be the first state to enact a statewide prohibition on tobacco sales in pharmacies. The bill also contains a provision that would prohibit “health care institutions” and any retail establishment that sells pharmaceutical goods and services from selling tobacco products.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health will produce posters that must be posted “conspicuously” in such establishments until Jan. 1, 2022.
Massachusetts joins a number of other states in raising its tobacco age to 21. Laws have been enacted by California, Hawaii, New Jersey, Maine, Oregon, Washington, D.C., and at least 340 cities and counties, including New York City, Chicago, San Antonio, Boston, Cleveland, Minneapolis, St. Louis and Kansas City (both Kansas and Missouri).
Tobacco use—the leading preventable cause of death—kills more than 480,000 Americans and costs the nation about $170 billion in healthcare each year. In Massachusetts, tobacco is responsible for the deaths more than 9,300 people and accounts for more than $4 billion in healthcare expense each year.