Health advocates urging increase in tobacco purchasing age

Senate passed bill raising age to 21, House considering proposal

BOSTON (WWLP) – State lawmakers are feeling the pressure to raise the legal age to buy cigarettes from 18 to 21.

The Massachusetts Senate has already passed such a bill, and anti-smoking groups are lobbying House lawmakers to do the same. The American Cancer Society held a State House event Wednesday, calling on representatives to approve the bill, which would also ban tobacco sales at retail stores with pharmacies.

The Retailers Association of Massachusetts argues that at 18 years old, people should be able to make their own choices. They are worried that people will spend their money in neighboring states, where the legal age to buy tobacco is still 18.

Dr. Alan Woodward, the former president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, said that they are concerned about smoking among people even younger than 18.

“We want to avoid the 18 and 19 year olds from getting addicted, but we also want to avoid having them buy tobacco products for younger teens when they’re even more susceptible, because their brain is not developed sufficiently,” Woodward said.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) told 22News that he supports raising the tobacco age, but he is not so sure that it will get done this legislative session.

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