The minimum age to purchase tobacco products in the state of Maine is now 21-years-old, as legislation passed earlier this year has gone into effect. It makes Maine the fifth state in the country where an individual must be at least 21-years-old to purchase tobacco, joining Hawaii, California, New Jersey and Oregon.
The bill does include a provision that will allow individuals who had already turned 18-years-old by the increase date to continue to purchase tobacco products, subject to any local laws. Retailers who violate the law would face a fine of $300 for the first offense, not less than $600 for the 2nd offense and not less than $1,000 for each offense thereafter.
After being passed by the legislature in July 2017, the bill was vetoed by Gov. Paul LePage, who returned it saying “I’m tired of living in a society where we social engineer our lives,” adding that he believes than an 18-year-old is capable of making the decision about whether or not to use tobacco. The legislature than overrode his veto, with a 29-5 vote in the Senate and a 90-44 vote in the House.
Illinois could be the next state to join the Tobacco 21 movement as the legislature has passed an increase, which is now awaiting the governor’s signature. Massachusetts is also expected to join the group, as more than 170 municipalities have passed their own increase, with the legislature currently considering a statewide increase.