A Massachusetts bill that will raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21-years-old has gained the final approval of the legislature today and now heads to the desk of Gov. Charlie Baker, who while not formally saying he will sign it, has expressed his willingness to sign it into law.
The bill, which passed as H.4486, had been approved by the House of Representatives in mid-May and by the Senate in late June, but 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 have been working on for the past several weeks.
The approval of the bill would bring a statewide blanket to what has become a patchwork approach to raising the tobacco age, as more than 170 cities, towns and counties have already approved increases on their own.
In addition to the age increase, the bill bans pharmacies from selling tobacco products, the first such statewide ban to be enacted, as well as adding e-cigarettes to the state’s smoke-free law. It also adds restrictions on the use of tobacco products and e-cigaretts on school grounds and facilities, nursing homes and similar care facilities,
Should the governor sign the bill, Massachusetts will join Hawaii, California, Oregon, New Jersey and Maine to have enacted such an increase, and it’s a group that could soon get a seventh member as Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has a bill on his desk that will raise the tobacco purchasing age to 21 should he sign it.
Featured image by Daderot, via Creative Commons.