August 15, 2014

Cigarette Buying Age Increased to 21

Scituate and Hudson a week ago became the latest Massachusetts regions to enroll in the move to increase the minimum age for purchasing cigarettes to 21. “We explained, ‘In case we are planning to do it, let’s just do it,’” stated Scituate Board of Health representative Russell Clark, after his panel voted this Wednesday to increase the age to 21 from 18. “Twenty-one appeared to be the number, and if that’s what alcohol sales are, then probably that’s what cigarette sales must be.”

The age raise came along with elevated compliance investigations, limitations to electronic cigarettes and cigars, restrictions of cigar and hookah bars, and tougher fines for sale infringements.

Along with boosting the minimum age to 21, authorities banned the sale of smoking products in health care organizations, just like pharmacies. “This will be a long lasting struggle,” added Sam Wong, Hudson’s leader of public and community health services. Rigorous rules concerning the sale of smoking products are becoming more popular in Massachusetts.

Since Needham elevated the cigarette buying age to 21 in 2005, 15 other regions have opted to increase the age to 19 or 21, from the previous age of 18, as outlined by the Municipal Tobacco Control Technical Assistance Program. “We understand that 80 % of adult cigarette users started using tobacco products day-to-day before 20 years of age, and the Needham attempt to increase the buying age has suggested that the smoking rate amongst high school students can be reduced considerably with this regulation,” Wong explained. “As these population sectors become older, we forecast a decreased adult smoking rate amongst our inhabitants.”

For instance, in 2012, the buying age went up to 19 in Belmont and Watertown. Bigger age mandates have been applied in Brookline, Westwood, Sharon, Walpole, Canton, Ashland, Sudbury, Dedham, and Dover.

Wellesley’s raise to 21 is planned to become effective in June. Arlington is slowly raising its age limits, and will arrive at 21 on July 1, 2015. All over the nation, Alaska, Alabama, Utah, New Jersey, and three counties in New York state increased the age to buy tobacco products to 19. New York City and Hawaii have chosen raises to 21.

By Lora Dowson, Staff Writer
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