A

Massachusetts Grade Card

Population Covered: 6,892,503

Tobacco 21 Since: December 21, 2018

The Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation evaluated all current statewide Tobacco 21 laws for their alignment with best practices that lead to effective prevention of youth initiation of tobacco and nicotine products.

ENFORCEMENT
GRADE: B

Designated Enforcement Agency

info

Best Practice:

Health Department or Designated Agency

Massachusetts Enforcement:

Massachusetts state laws are enforced by local authorities, Boards of Health or the Attorney General’s Office

Age Verification

info

Best Practice:

Before distributing any tobacco product, the tobacco retailer or the tobacco retailer’s agent or employee shall verify that the purchaser is at least 21 years of age. Each tobacco retailer or tobacco retailer’s agent or employee shall examine the purchaser’s government-issued photographic identification if the purchaser appears to be under 30 years of age.

Massachusetts Enforcement:

ID check is required for any purchaser that appears to be under 27 years of age

Who is the Penalty Placed on?

info

Best Practice:

The primary burden for sales to underage purchasers should fall on the retailer who is profiting from the sales of the product and not the purchaser or non-management employee.

Massachusetts Enforcement:

Penalty is placed on the retailer

Number of Compliance Checks

info

Best Practice:

Provide authority for the state, county, or municipality to inspect tobacco retailers for compliance with MLSA 21 and a mandated minimum number of annual compliance checks. Model recommends two per year for every tobacco retail establishment.

Massachusetts Enforcement:

Compliance checks conducted once a year per retailer

Compliance Checks Done With Underage Decoys Aged 18-20

info

Best Practice:

The designated agency shall conduct compliance checks by engaging persons between the ages of 18 and 20 to enter the tobacco retail establishment to attempt to purchase tobacco products.

Massachusetts Enforcement:

Decoys are to be between the ages of 16 and 20 years of age

LICENSING
GRADE: B

Statewide Tobacco Retail License

info

Best Practice:

A comprehensive tobacco retail license allows states and municipalities to regulate all tobacco retailers, fund enforcement programs, and create a penalty structure that suspends or revokes a license for retailers that continue to violate a MLSA 21 law.

Massachusetts Licensing:

Massachusetts has multiple licenses that cover all products

Tobacco Retail License Program Funds Enforcement

info

Best Practice

The fee for a tobacco retail sales license shall be set and used to cover the administrative cost for licensing administration, education and training, retail inspections, and unannounced compliance checks. The tobacco retail sales license fee should not exceed the cost of the regulatory program authorized beyond the statute/ordinance.

Massachusetts Licensing:

Massachusetts’ Statewide Tobacco Retail License fee does not fund enforcement; however, most municipalities dedicate a portion of their license fee to enforcement

Tobacco Retail License Fee

info

Best Practice:

An effective licensing system requires tobacco retailers to pay an annual license fee and allows it to be periodically adjusted. Fee must be adequate to cover License administration, education/training, and enforcement. An annual fee of lower than $300 is generally inadequate to fund a licensing program.

Massachusetts Licensing:

Massachusetts’ state license fee is $25-50; however, this is in addition to municipality licenses that range from $25 to $600 annually

PENALTIES
GRADE: A

Penalty Type

info

Best Practice:

Establish a civil penalty structure for violations rather than a criminal penalty structure.

Massachusetts Penalties:

Massachusetts has a civil penalty structure

Violation Accrual Period

info

Best Practice:

36 months

Massachusetts Penalties:

Massachusetts has a 36-month violation accrual period

Monetary Penalty and Suspension Structure

info

Best Practice:

1st violation = $500
2nd violation = $750 and (7) day suspension
3rd violation = $1,000 and (30) day suspension
4th violation = $1000 and (3) year suspension

Massachusetts Penalties:

1st Violation = $1,000 fine
2nd Violation = $2,000 fine
3rd Violation and subsequent offenses = $5,000 fine and seven-day suspension
Note: Most cities and town typically have higher suspension terms

Does the Law Penalize Youth for Purchase, Use or Possession

info

Best Practice:

An evidence-based, best practices tobacco MLSA 21 policy should focus penalties on the tobacco retailer who profits from the illegal sale rather than the youth who is likely addicted to the product. PUP laws may be unlikely to reduce youth smoking significantly.

Massachusetts Penalties:

Massachusetts has no laws penalizing youth for purchase, use, or possession (PUP) of tobacco products

PREEMPTION
GRADE: A

Does Preemption exist, was it added, or expanded

info

Best Practice:

Local governments have a critical role in reducing the deadly toll of tobacco by regulating sales and restricting youth access to these products to prevent use and addiction.

Tobacco 21 legislation should not introduce new tobacco control preemption, nor expand existing tobacco control preemption, and instead should be used as an opportunity to assert local authority or repeal existing tobacco control preemption.

Massachusetts Preemption:

Massachusetts does not have existing preemption; however, H. 4486 added specific language preempting local jurisdictions from raising MLSA above 21 but there is no broad preemption in MA code; local Boards of Health are active in passing and enforcing a variety of tobacco control policies throughout the state

DEFINITIONS
GRADE: A

Definitions

info

Best Practice:

A comprehensive definition will cover all current, known tobacco and nicotine products, which include not only cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco, but also products like pipes, rolling papers, electronic smoking devices, and other related devices. A strong definition will also be broad enough to capture future products.

Massachusetts Definitions:

Massachusetts’ Tobacco 21 law includes comprehensive definitions