Massachusetts is one step closer to becoming the sixth state in the country where an individual must be at least 21-years-old to purchase tobacco products, as on Thursday the state Senate approved its version of a bill that would implement the age increase.
The bill passed the Senate by a 33-2 vote, and while the House approved its version last month by a 147-4 vote, the two chambers must now come together to resolve the differences in their two versions of the increase before it can head to the desk of Gov. Charlie Baker, who has indicated a willingness to sign the increase into law. Those differences appear to be in fines levied on retailers for selling to a person under 21-years-old, usage of tobacco products at or around schools, and revising definitions of terms used in the bill.
Should a unified version of the bill be able to be crafted and the governor signs it, the increase would go into effect on Dec. 31, 2018. However, the bills include a provision that will still allow individuals who have turned 18 prior to that date to continue to purchase tobacco products even though they aren’t yet 21. However, they would still be subject to any additional restrictions passed at the local level, meaning that if a city requires a person to be at least 21 to purchase tobacco products, they would not be allowed to complete the transaction.
The approval of the bill should come as little surprise, as more than 170 cities, towns and counties have already approved increases on their own.