Easthampton could be latest city to raise tobacco buying age

Plan would raise age of purchase from 18 to 21

EASTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Easthampton’s debating whether to raise the town’s tobacco purchasing age to 21.

Some residents don’t think it’s necessary.

“If you’re allowed to go into the military and enlist at the age of 18, you should be able to make the decision whether you want to smoke or not,” said Peter Sharak of Easthampton.

One store that sells cigarettes said a higher tobacco age would hurt business.

“About a third of our sales is cigarettes and we’re going to lose that age range between 18 to 21 who are buying,” said Al Zigmont, Co-Owner of Ferry Street Package Store.

More than a third of Massachusetts communities have already raised the legal for buying tobacco from 18 to 21. Those in favor of the tobacco 21 proposal in Easthampton say it would send a positive message to young people.

“The more we can push off when people can start to smoke or start to experiment with smoking, the better chance we have of not creating lifelong smokers who become addicted to the most addictive drug on the planet,” said Ruth Ever Coordinator of the Easthampton Healthy Youth Coalition.

Easthampton’s Board of Health are trying to gather input on their proposal from everyone in town.

“We want to have a good argument and we want input from the public and we don’t make decisions ahead of time and the hearing was for that purpose,” said Jackie Duda, Health Agent for Easthampton’s Board of Health.

Duda said the Board will meet to discuss the proposal again in August. She hopes a decision will be made by January of 2018.