A new bill that could raise the state's smoking age from 18 to 21, regulate e-cigarettes and ban tobacco product sales in medical facilities and pharmacies statewide will be debated in the Massachusetts Senate this week, State House News Service reported.
Senate Bill 2152 would impose a fine of $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense and $300 for a third or subsequent defense for anyone selling tobacco products to a person under the age of 21.
A similar fine structure of $25, $50, and $100 would be imposed on those selling cigarette rolling papers to someone under that age.
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The move includes a proposed ban on the use of e-cigarettes or “other similar products that rely on vaporization or aerosolization” where traditional forms of smoking are already prohibited, such as bars and restaurants.
It also requires child-resistant packaging of liquid nicotine containers, as well as a ban on selling those products to consumers under 21.
According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, 135 municipalities in nine different states raised the smoking age to 21 in recent years -- including an outright statewide age hike in Hawaii. Four states have passed a law raising the age to 19, including New Jersey.
The Bay State leads the nation with the most number of municipalities raising the smoking age to 21, with 101 cities and towns -- including Boston -- adopting the change. New Jersey comes in second, with only 15.
A spokesperson for the Retailers Association of Massachusetts told State House News Service that the group is “still kind of trying to decide exactly where we stand” on the proposed changes.
The higher age limit might send consumers to places like New Hampshire -- where the age remains 18 -- and a ban in pharmacies could hurt a store’s ability to sell other, non-tobacco products, he said.