The Massachusetts House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill Wednesday raising the minimum legal sales age for tobacco products from 18 to 21. The bill would also set the minimum age for purchasing vaping products at 21.
The vote was 147-4.
“This bill seeks to reduce tobacco use and nicotine addiction among youth by restricting access to tobacco and vapor products for anyone under 21,” said Representative Kate Hogan, the House chair of the Legislature’s public health committee.
Both the state Senate and Governor Charlie Baker support such efforts, so it is likely some version of the bill will become law. Health advocates strongly back raising the age, while some industry groups are cool to the idea.
Tobacco use at any age isn’t generally prohibited. State law limits sale of tobacco products to people 18 or older. But more than 170 Massachusetts towns and cities, including Boston, have raised the legal sales age, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Put another way, more than 70 percent of the state’s population lives in communities that have raised the tobacco age to 21.
The House measure would change the age statewide, following several states such as Hawaii, California, and Maine.
If the bill passes the House and Senate and the governor signs it into law, it would also harmonize the minimum legal sales age for three drugs in Massachusetts: alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco.
The House bill would also add vaping to the state’s smoke-free workplace law, so anywhere a person is prohibited from smoking they would be prohibited from vaping, too. And the legislation would bar pharmacies from selling tobacco and vaping products.
The Senate passed a similar bill in 2016 by a vote of 32-2 , but it stalled in the House.
Senator Jason M. Lewis, the Legislature’s most outspoken proponent of raising the tobacco age, cheered this year’s House effort.
“I look forward to joining with my colleagues to bring this bill to the floor of the Senate — where it passed with bipartisan support last session — and onward to the governor’s desk,” the Winchester Democrat said.