A bill that will raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products in Massachusetts to 21-years-old received the signature of Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday, making The Bay State the sixth in the country to enact such an increase.

The bill, which passed as H.4486, was approved by the House of Representatives in mid-May by a 147-4 margin and by the Senate in late June by a 33-2 vote tally. However a handful of amendments left the two versions different from each other and thus required the two chambers to craft a compromise version, which they worked on for several weeks before passing it in mid-July.

“Raising the age to buy tobacco products in the Commonwealth is an important step to prevent addiction for young people and encourage healthy choices,” said Baker during the signing. “We appreciate the Legislature’s collaboration to pass this bill that will limit the purchasing of cigarettes and other harmful products for those under 21 to support long term health for the next generation.”

The increase goes into effect on Dec. 31, but the bill does provide a grandfather clause for persons who attained the age of 18 before that date. However, those individuals will still be subject to any municipal ordinance or other regulation that prohibited sales of tobacco products or vapor products to persons under the age of 19, 20 or 21 in effect on December 30, 2018.

In addition to the age increase, the bill also adds e-cigarettes to existing smoking bans, prohibits the use of any tobacco products on school grounds, and bans the sale of tobacco by any pharmacy, hospital, or other entity that offers health care services or that employs any licensed health care providers.

Massachusetts joins Hawaii, California, Oregon, New Jersey and Maine to have enacted such an increase. Illinois could soon be the next one to join the group as Gov. Bruce Rauner has a bill on his desk that will raise the tobacco purchasing age to 21 should he sign it. He has 60 days to act on the bill from when he receives it, which was on June 28.

Featured image courtesy of the Massachusetts Governor’s Press Office.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and previously the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for Major League Baseball, plus I'm a voice over artist. Prior to joining halfwheel, I covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.