Lawmakers to debate raising tobacco to age 21 statewide - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM


Lawmakers to debate raising tobacco to age 21 statewide

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A key vote on a bill that would raise the age to 21 for anyone buying cigarettes in Massachusetts is scheduled Wednesday at the State House.

"The 18 year olds, I can probably count on one hand in a day how many people below 21 come in to buy tobacco products," said David Glantz with Buckeye Brothers Smokeshop.

Right now, in Springfield and many towns and cities in the state, a person must be 18 to purchase cigarettes and other tobacco products.

A new city ordinance to raise that age to 21 is about to go into effect, but at the same time, a bill going before the House for a vote on Wednesday would make 21 the statewide age to buy smoking products.

"It's gotta be nationwide.  I think 21, it's gotta be like alcohol," Glantz added.

Glantz told Western Mass News that while he’s in favor of the age hike, at the same time, he’s concerned that there’s going to be some confusion.

"You got, ya know, towns that are 21 now and some towns that are 18.  Ya know, you have different laws in every town.  It should be across the board," Glantz said.

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According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, around 170 cities and towns in the state have already raised the tobacco age to 21.

Nearly 20 of those communities are in western Massachusetts, where some of the local ordinances date back to 2014.

Glantz said that he wants the law to be uniform, so nobody’s business gets the short end of the stick.

"As a retailer you want it to be, you know, we want a level playing field across the board," Glantz said.

The bill isn't just about raising the smoking age either.  It also involves e-cigarettes as well.

"I'm using the assistance - the patches, the hot line - and I'm still finding it hard to quit," said Carol Turner.

Turner is a smoker trying to quit and she told Western Mass News that anything to keep tobacco out of the hands of our kids is a good move.

"As much as we can hold our youth back, I say yes, because we already know what cigarettes are doing," Turner added.

If the bill passes in the House, it would still have to get through the Senate before heading to Governor Baker’s desk.

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