Massachusetts has been one of the hotbeds of the Tobacco 21 movement with over 170 municipalities raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco and tobacco alternative to 21-years-old. On Wednesday, the state House of Representatives is scheduled to vote making 21 the minimum age to purchase tobacco statewide.
It is the first time in two years that the legislature has considered an increase, though it hasn’t been for a lack of legislation. In 2016, a proposal was approved by a 32-2 vote in the Senate, though it was never brought up for a vote by the other chamber. Legislation was introduced again for the 2017 session, but it has largely sat dormant.
To get to the House floor, the bill, H. 4109, has received approvals from joint committees on public health and health care financing, as well as the House Ways and Means Committee. If it passes the House, it will still need to go to the Senate for that chamber’s approval, and then onto Gov. Charlie Baker, who has expressed reserved support for the increase, though has maintained he wants to see the language in the final bill before expressing full support.
As it is currently written, the bill is seeking to make the increase effective as of July 1. It does include a provision that would grandfather individuals who have turned 18 prior to Jan. 1, 2017, meaning they could purchase tobacco products even though they aren’t yet 21.