If you’ve been paying any attention to the news as of late, you’ve probably heard that the city of Boston, located in Massachusetts, has been in talks to raise the legal age to purchase cigarettes and tobacco products to 21. The current age limit is 18, but many feel that’s much too young of an age to allow people to make sure serious and damaging decisions about their health.
What’s more is that it’s not just Boston that has gone for this idea; now, the entire state of Massachusetts is also considering changing the age, and if it does, there’s speculation that other states will quickly follow suit.
As of now, close to 60 representatives and senators have signed a bill agreeing to raise the tobacco age limit to 21. The bill also stipulates the consequences for those who are caught selling tobacco to minors, including fines of up to $100 for the first offense alone. While the original hearing regarding this bill was held back in July of 2015, no firm decision has been made yet either way, though a decision is expected sometime in the new year.
It’s interesting to note that this big change, which could go statewide, was all started by a little community known as Needham eleven years ago. This community, a suburb in the heart of Boston, wanted to promote healthy living, especially among young people, so it imposed a local ordinance that raised the tobacco-buying age to 21. In the years since, many other communities have done the same, and countless others have tried to implement such a law.
It’s amazing that such big changes could come from such small ones, but as tobacco products of all sorts become more relevant, people are really seeing the need to raise the smoking age. If the law is passed, it would ban those under 21 from purchasing not just cigarettes but also cigars, smokeless tobacco, and even those ever-popular e-cigs that young people everywhere seem to be using these days.
While it’s unclear, as of now, if the statewide law will be passed, if it is, legislators are expecting it to be implemented in either February or March. And, if the law is passed, Massachusetts won’t be the first to raise the tobacco buying age. Hawaii made this decision back in June, but if Massachusetts is added to the list, most say it’s only a matter of time before all the other states fall in line.
Those who are pushing hard for the law to pass are regularly bringing up the fact that a whopping 90% of people who currently smoke daily report that they began smoking before they were 19. These supporters of the new law explain that if smoking can start later, it may not start at all
Young smokers and supporters of the new law alike are waiting eagerly to hear how things turn out, but most are speculating that the law will be passed. As with all things related to the law, however, only time will tell!