BOSTON — Senator Eric P. Lesser voted with the State Senate on Thursday to pass a bill that raises the age for statewide sales of tobacco in response to a disturbing increase in teen smoking in recent years.
There are now a variety of tobacco products marketed to young people — including “vaping” devices e-cigarettes and flavored cigarettes — meant to entice teenagers to begin using them.
“I learned about this effort to raise the tobacco age from high schoolers in Springfield and Chicopee who urged us to do something to save their friends from the long-term damage done by smoking. We have known about these dangerous effects for decades, and we must take action to reverse the increasing trend of teenagers turning to new tobacco and nicotine products that are specifically marketed to them to get them hooked,” said Sen. Lesser.
The bill, S. 2571 An Act protecting youth from the health risks of tobacco and nicotine, raises the age for tobacco sales in the state from 18 to 21 and prohibits the sale of tobacco products in vending machines. It was introduced by Sen. Jason Lewis (D-Winchester).
Tobacco use and nicotine addiction is responsible for more than $4 billion in annual healthcare costs in Massachusetts. Young people are particularly susceptible to nicotine addiction, and 9 in 10 cigarette smokers begin using before age 18, according to Sen. Lewis’ office.
The bill must now be reconciled with a version passed by the House before going to the Governor’s desk for signature.