CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Massachusetts lawmakers are considering raising the age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21.
The joint committee on public health held a hearing in Boston Tuesday to hear from retailers and public health professionals about the benefits and consequences the change could create.
Shane Nice, who works at Country Trading in Chicopee, said most of their customers are already over 18.
“Sometimes even we know what they’re looking for, we’ll reach for it as we see them walking in, so I don’t think it’s going to change too much,” Nice said. “I don’t think those people are thinking about quitting anytime soon either.”
State lawmakers and public health officials are hoping to help teenagers avoid getting hooked on tobacco, by making it harder for them to get their hands on the products in the first place.
Cordell Daniels said he started smoking at a young age. “I started smoking actually when I was 15. It would have definitely changed this for me. It was easy for me to get cigarettes, so I think raising the age would be a good thing”.
Some Massachusetts retailers argued in a legislative hearing today that raising the age would take away rights from legal adults, and couldn’t guarantee it would curb underage use.
Devon Everett said adults should be able to make their own decisions about tobacco use. He said “Nobody does bad things cause of smoking, so if the age for alcohol for is 21, then the age for tobacco should be 18 you’re an adult, you can make your own decisions, you’re taking away a right”.
The proposed legislation would also ban people from smoking e-cigarettes in the workplace, and ban the selling of tobacco products at pharmacies.