Boston Officials Raise Age to Buy Tobacco Products

Mayor Martin J. Walsh recently announced that the Boston Board of Health voted to approve amendments to the City of Boston’s tobacco regulations which raise the minimum legal age for purchasing tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 to 21, increase the age for admission to adult-only retail tobacco stores and smoking bars to 21, and streamline existing regulations.

Additionally, the amendments will limit the sale of flavored tobacco and nicotine products other than menthol to adult-only retailers.

“I am proud to stand with our Board of Health in support of updating Boston’s tobacco regulations. It is our responsibility to do what we can to guide our young people and create a healthier future for all Bostonians,” said Mayor Walsh. “We know the consequences of tobacco use are real and can be devastating. These 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.”

By raising the minimum legal age for tobacco sales to 21, Boston joins more than 85 other municipalities in Massachusetts, as well as New York City and Hawaii. The amendments will go into effect in 60 days on February 15, 2016.

Previously, Boston’s Board of Health has implemented robust tobacco control and prevention measures to address youth smoking, leading to a substantial reduction in youth cigarette use. Among Boston high school students, the rate of cigarette use declined from 15.3 percent in 2005 to 7.9 percent in 2013, and is well below the national average of 15.7 percent. However, use of electronic cigarettes and flavored tobacco products is on the rise, spurring the most recent action by the Board of Health.

“I applaud Mayor Walsh for his leadership on this persistent public health issue and for his support of these critically important policy changes that will undoubtedly protect Boston’s young people from unnecessary disease and premature death,” said Board of Health Chair Dr. Paula Johnson.

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