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Lung Association Applauds New Massachusetts Law Raising the Age of Sale of Tobacco as It Goes into Effect January 1st

TODAY: January 1 2019 Massachusetts Becomes 6th State to Prohibit the Sale of Tobacco Anyone Under the Age of 21

(January 1, 2019) - BOSTON

For more information please contact:

Jennifer Solomon
[email protected]
(516) 680-8927

The American Lung Association praised the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a new law raising the age of sale of all tobacco products from 18 to 21 went into effect today, at 12am this morning, on January 1, 2019.  The legislation also adds e-cigarettes to the smokefree workplace law, and prohibits the sale of tobacco in health care facilities including pharmacies. 

“The new year turns over a new leaf for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as it proudly becomes the 6th state in the nation to raise the age of sale of tobacco products to 21.  This law will save lives and protect our young people from beginning a dangerous addiction to tobacco,” said Michael Seilback, National Assistant Vice President of State Public Policy for American Lung Association.  “Additionally, by restricting the use of e-cigarettes and the public’s exposure to e-cigarette emissions, and removing tobacco from pharmacy shelves all Massachusetts residents will be able to breathe a little easier.”

According to the American Lung Association’s 2018 State of Tobacco Control, over 29% of Massachusetts high school students reported using tobacco products.  Nearly 95 percent of adult smokers report trying their first cigarette before the age of 21.  According to a 2015 report from the National Academy of Medicine, raising the tobacco age to 21 nationwide would prevent 223,000 deaths among people born between 2000 and 2019, including 50,000 fewer dying from lung cancer, the nation’s leading cancer killer.

In addition to the harm posed by traditional tobacco products, recently released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the use of electronic cigarettes, e-cigars, e-hookahs and similar products has dramatically increased among children. Nationally, e-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among both high school and middle school students with 20.8 percent of high school students and 4.9 percent of middle school students using them, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2018 Youth Tobacco Survey.

The use of electronic cigarettes, e-cigars, e-hookahs and similar products across the state have dramatically increased, and without updated smokefree laws, patrons of all ages are increasingly exposed to secondhand emissions from electronic cigarettes on public transportation, in bars and restaurants, at sporting events, concerts and in public libraries.

Seilback continued, “This statewide law grew from local governments raising the age of sale in their communities - and it will now play an important role in increasing their efficacy.  We are proud to see Massachusetts return to a leading national role on public health policy.”

To date, California, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey and Oregon have statewide laws where 21 is the legal sales age to purchase tobacco products. 

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About the American Lung Association

The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.

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