State lawmakers urged to increase legal smoking age

Holyoke has already increased the legal age to buy tobacco to 21

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BOSTON (WWLP) – Cancer survivors are calling on the state to increase the legal age for buying tobacco to 21. They say it could save teens from falling victim to lifelong nicotine addiction.

More than 100 cancer survivors, teenagers, and their families gathered at the State House, urging lawmakers to support a bill to raise the state smoking age from 18 to 21. Young adults are a key market for the tobacco industry with 95% of smokers starting before they are 21.

Some state lawmakers believe that raising the buying age will help keep tobacco out of high schools. Critics argue that 18 year olds are able to vote, so they should be able to decide whether to smoke. However, some state lawmakers insist it should be regulated like alcohol and marijuana.

State Representative Kate Hogan, Chair of the Committee on Public Health said, “When I started, I had no idea how addictive cigarettes were and I had no idea how it could affect your health. And so when I began to decide I needed to quit, it was probably the hardest thing I ever did.”

Holyoke is one of one hundred Massachusetts communities that have already increased the legal age to buy tobacco to 21.