BOSTON – Today Governor Charlie Baker signed H4486, An Act protecting youth from the health risks of tobacco and nicotine addiction, which will raise the legal age to buy tobacco products statewide from 18 to 21.
The bill also broadens existing prohibitions on public smoking to include e-cigarettes, and prohibits the use of tobacco products on the grounds of any public or private primary, secondary, or vocational school. Additionally, the new law will prohibit the sale of tobacco products by any pharmacy, hospital, or other entity that offers health care services or that employs any licensed health care providers.
“Raising the age to buy tobacco products in the Commonwealth is an important step to prevent addiction for young people and encourage healthy choices,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We appreciate the Legislature’s collaboration to pass this bill that will limit the purchasing of cigarettes and other harmful products for those under 21 to support long term health for the next generation.”
“Tobacco products have harmful effects, especially on our youth, and this law is an important way to address this public health concern,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “We thank the Legislature for their work to pass this important bill.”
“Tobacco and nicotine addiction remain a leading cause of preventable death and illness in Massachusetts,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. “Today’s actions support our continued efforts to develop comprehensive approaches to reduce the health and economic burden of tobacco use by preventing young people from starting to smoke, helping current smokers to quit, protecting children and adults from secondhand smoke, and identifying and eliminating tobacco-related health disparities.”
“This is a big step toward our ongoing effort to curb tobacco use among children and young adults,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. “Thank you to Chairs Hogan and McMurtry and to my colleagues in the House and Senate for their work to balance protecting the health of our children with creating stability for our retailers and preserving rights for adults.”
“Increasing the tobacco age to 21 will reduce smoking-related deaths; improve the health of young adults; and reduce the number of young adults who start smoking in the first place,” said Senate President Karen Spilka. “Massachusetts is the healthiest state in the country because of smart legislation like this that improves public health and promotes prevention. I am proud of the advocates, many of them adolescents and young adults, who led the charge for this legislation, and thankful for the Governor’s support of this concept.”
“Massachusetts has long been a leader in protecting and strengthening public health,” said Senator Jason Lewis, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health and the bill’s lead sponsor in the Senate. “This comprehensive legislation will once again put the Commonwealth at the forefront of preventing youth addiction to tobacco and nicotine products, in order to improve health, save lives, and reduce healthcare costs.”
“This legislation is vital to preventing youth from becoming addicted to nicotine and facing a lifetime of addiction,” said Representative Kate Hogan, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health and the bill’s lead co-sponsor in the House. “It is also critical to create one standard for our small businesses across the Commonwealth.”
“After the cumulation of the hard work of many individuals and organizations, today’s monumental signing of this life-saving legislation once again demonstrates Governor Baker’s commitment to the long-term health and well-being of the youth of the Commonwealth,” said Representative Paul McMurtry and the bill’s lead co-sponsor in the House. “Additionally millions of dollars in health care costs related to the harmful addiction of nicotine and tobacco products will be saved for generations to come.”