The town of Braintree, Mass., a suburb south of Boston with approximately 35,000 residents, is moving forward with a proposal that would raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21 from the current age of 18. The Braintree Board of Health has scheduled a public hearing on the matter for May 15 at 7 pm in the town hall.
Dr. Philip Nedelman, the chairman of the board, told The Braintree Forum on April 18 that “we are still in fact-finding mode.” The day prior, he and colleagues Dr. Arthur Bregoli Jr. and Paula Dowd voted in favor of a draft of new regulations prepared by Director of Municipal Licenses and Inspections Marybeth McGrath.
If passed, the move primarily would apply to traditional tobacco products as well as e-cigarettes and other nicotine delivery devices. Nedelman said the change could be made as early as the end of the year.
Numerous cities and towns in Massachusetts have either looked at or adopted increased minimum purchase ages for tobacco products, including Needham, Arlington, Canton, Dover, Wellesley, Hudson, Scituate and Sharon, which have all raised the minimum age to 21, while Newburyport, Arlington, Belmont, Brookline, Watertown, and Walpole have raised it to 19.
Waltham appears close to increasing the age to 21, having announced a meeting in June to discuss the change with retailers.
Not all towns are signing on though, as Hopkinton rejected an age increase to 21 in December 2013.
The age changes are coming largely at the spurring of Dr. Lester Hartman, a pediatrician who has tried to get the state to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21 but has not had success at that level. In turn, he has made it known that he will go city to city looking to raise the minimum age, effectively working from the ground up on making 21 the minimum age to purchase tobacco in Massachusetts.