Mayor Walsh Wants to Raise Age to Buy Tobacco, Nicotine Products to 21

Today Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced that Boston is looking to raise the minimum age to buy all tobacco and nicotine products to 21. The proposal includes e-cigarettes.

Boston’s Board of Heath is expected to vote on the proposal on December 17, and if approved, would become a Boston law 60 days later. A public hearing is scheduled for December 3, and written comment can be submitted until December 9.

“It is our responsibility to do what we can to guide our young people and create a healthier future for all Bostonians,” said Walsh. “We know the consequences of tobacco use are real and can be devastating. These proposed changes send a strong message that Boston takes the issue of preventing tobacco addiction seriously, and I hope that message is heard throughout Boston and across the entire country.”

Kevin O’Flaherty of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said 95% of adult smokers began smoking before they turned 21, and ages 18 to 21 are critical years when young people transition from experimenting with tobacco into becoming regular users.

In recent years Boston has tried very hard to combat youth smoking. Among Boston high school students, the rate of cigarette use declined from 15.3% in 2005 to 7.9% in 2013, according to stats provided by Boston. The national average is 15.7%.

In addition to raising the age to buy tobacco and nicotine products to 21, proposed amendments would also: increase the age of admission to adult-only retail tobacco stores and smoking bars to 21; prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products and nicotine delivery products other than menthol in all retail outlets except for adult-only retail tobacco stores and smoking bars and more.

Click here for more information on the proposed changes.

  • So much for a person’s right to choose, eh? While I understand the public health aspect of the plan (though I’m not sold on the “scientific evidence” prompting it) I’m seeing yet one more case where an individual’s right to choose is being stripped away. An 18 year old can buy a car, work their tails off on a job and go overseas to defend our country, possibly paying the ultimate price, but if they live in Boston they can’t have a drink at the end of their day nor, if Mayor Walsh has his way, they can’t take a break and enjoy a cigarette? Thank you for going Health Nazi on us, Mr. Mayor. Despite all the good you’re doing for Boston you’ve lost my respect, and my vote.

    • Monster

      Counter-proposal: how about we raise the minimum age for entering the military to 21 as well? Might give kids some extra years to do things like read up on the extremely well-documented scientific evidence that smoking is unhealthy.

    • Paul

      Cigarettes should be illegal. There is nothing at all good about smoking tobacco. There is no excuse for it, no argument for it, and no question about it. Even adults should be banned from buying them so they don’t expose others to second hand smoke. This isn’t about choice this is about suicide prevention.

      • bjcolby15

        Cigarettes will never be illegal and will never be banned as long as the tax revenue the Comm of MA levies on cigarettes flows in – to the tune of a little less $1 billion per year. That’s easy revenue for them, and that’s just how they like it.

        The effective tax rates – the $4.51 state/federal excise divided by the cost – easily surpasses 50% and can get as high as 70%. If those effective rates got placed on cigarette packs, the incentive to quit would ramp up quickly and that revenue would shrink pretty quickly.

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