Massachusetts Increases Tobacco Minimum Purchase Age to 21

By Angela Garrity 

Massachusetts increased the minimum purchase age for tobacco products to 21 days before the New Year, according to Telegram. The law also includes vaping products as well as prohibits pharmacies from sales of such tobacco and vaping related products as well as bans the use of vaping in places where state law already prohibited smoking.

The new restrictions adhere to a bill signed by Gov. Charles D. Baker Jr. in July. Local boards of health were notified of the law changes in September.

However, FDA-approved tobacco-cessation products are exempted from the prohibition if they are sold exclusively for the approved purchase, according to a letter last week from Patricia Henley of the Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Control Program, reported by State House News Service.

Based on the state law, the regulations, among other things, prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products except in smoking bars and adult-only retail stores. Dr. David  Tapscott, vice chairman of the Uxbridge Board of Health said that along with the new minimum purchase age for vaping products, the law is “putting up a stronger barrier” to adolescent tobacco use.

Worcester’s young tobacco buyers won’t notice a local difference.

The city’s tobacco product purchase age has been 21 since September 2016. And the city’s definition of tobacco has, since November 2015, included all nicotine delivery products, according to Karyn E. Clark, director of public health.

Ms. Clark wrote in an email that the higher minimum age for tobacco was consistent with the Greater Worcester Community Health Improvement Plan.

Ms. Clark said that although there was concern earlier about the higher minimum age hurting retailers’ revenue, “To date we are not aware of any stores that have closed as a result in the City or any community that has passed this regulation.”
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