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Recent updates! – Tobacco 21 Progress – MA statewide bill tracker
On July 27, 2018, Massachusetts became the sixth state to increase the minimum legal sales age for tobacco products to 21!
Massachusetts is an inspiring case in the effort to raise the tobacco age to 21. This began in the town of Needham, where the tobacco age was set at 21 in 2005. The result was an immediate, significant drop in both current use and frequent use of cigarettes among youth, compared to both their previous rate, and the rates of surrounding communities.
This drop occurred despite the relative ease of finding alternative sources of cigarettes, as the neighboring towns had not yet enacted similar measures. Since then, a growing number of communities in Massachusetts have followed Needham’s path, primarily due to the work of Dr. Jonathan Winickoff and Dr. Lester Hartman. Simply by presenting the case for Tobacco 21 to local health boards, Dr. Winickoff and Dr. Hartman have helped institute a tobacco age of 21 in over 175 different communities around Massachusetts. Combined these municipalities account for over 70% of the population. The success that these two have had helps illustrate the potential influence of a small group advocates in implementing Tobacco 21. Thanks to their efforts, Tobacco 21 is now supported by Tobacco Free Mass, and a statewide bill was introduced in 2015, 2016, and 2017, all with dozens of sponsors.
House Bill 2021: 2015 bill to raise the tobacco age to 21 in Massachusetts
Currently, Massachusetts has an well below national average rate of high school smoking, and a near average rate of adult smoking. However, there are still an estimated 103,000 children now under the age of 18 that will eventually die early due to smoking, with 2,500 children becoming daily smokers each year.
The result is an annual health care cost of $4.08 billion that is directly caused by smoking. Complimenting the efforts of these local governments is the state’s per pack tax of $3.51, one of the highest in the nation. The state currently only spends 10.2% of the CDC recommended amount on tobacco prevention, but the low-cost approach of local government regulation helps offset the negative effects of this lack of funding.
When the Massachusetts legislature raised the minimum legal sales age for tobacco products from 18 to 21 statewide, it also preempted local governments from enacting ordinances raising the minimum legal sales age above that set by the state. The legislature did not preempt local governments from passing local ordinances establishing a tobacco retail license.
For More Information, Please Contact:
- Shannon Quinby
- Tobacco 21
- Eastern Regional Director
- Kevin O’Flaherty
- Tobacco Free Kids
- Played a direct role in shaping NYC’s historic T21 legislation.
Director Northeastern Region
- Jonathan Winickoff, MD
- Leading the multiple local health board efforts toward tobacco at age 21 Associate Professor Harvard University
- Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Child and Adolescent Health Policy
- Massachusetts Tobacco 21 Local Partner
- Lester Hartman, MD
- Leading multiple local health board efforts toward tobacco at age 21 Medical Home Director www.wmpeds.com
- Westwood Mansfied Pediatric Associates
- Massachusetts Tobacco 21 Local Partner
Other Helpful Resources:
Tobacco Free Kids Massachusetts
The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is a leading force in the fight to reduce tobacco use and its deadly toll in the United States and around the world. Our vision: A future free of the death and disease caused by tobacco.
American Lung Association State Report Card
The ALA ‘State of Tobacco Control’ report tracks progress on key tobacco control policies at the state and federal levels, and assigns grades based on tobacco control laws and regulations in effect as of January 2, 2014.
SLATI State Information Massachusetts
SLATI (State Legislated Actions on Tobacco Issues) is an extensively researched and invaluable source of information on tobacco control laws and policy, and is the only up-to-date and comprehensive summary of state tobacco control laws.