American Lung Assoc. Praises State Legislature for Tobacco-control Measure

BOSTON — The American Lung Assoc. congratulated the Massachusetts Legislature for voting on and passing HB 4486, following its approval by a 32-3 vote in the Senate and 143-3 in the House. The legislation, which awaits Gov. Charlie Baker’s signature, increases the sales age for tobacco from 18 to 21, adds e-cigarettes to the smoke-free-workplace law, and prohibits the sale of tobacco in healthcare facilities, including pharmacies.

“Massachusetts is poised to be the sixth state in the nation to enact legislation to raise the age of sale of tobacco products to 21,” said Deborah Brown, chief mission officer of the American Lung Assoc. “This bill will not only protect our young people from beginning a dangerous addiction to tobacco, but it includes safeguards for public health by restricting the use of e-cigarettes and the public’s exposure to e-cigarette emissions. Additionally, the removal of tobacco from pharmacy shelves helps reduce the consumption, availability, and visibility of these products in our local communities — and supports current smokers who want to quit.”

To date, California, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, and Oregon have statewide laws requiring consumers to be 21 years of age to purchase tobacco products. The state Legislature of Illinois, like Massachusetts, has passed legislation and is awaiting action from its governor. According to the 2018 “State of Tobacco Control” report by the American Lung Assoc., more than 29{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of Massachusetts high-school students reported using tobacco products. Nearly 95{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} of adult smokers report trying their first cigarette before the age of 21.

“In addition to the harm posed by traditional tobacco products, recently released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that e-cigarettes remained the most commonly used tobacco product among youth in the U.S. in 2017,” Brown said. “The use of electronic cigarettes, e-cigars, e-hookahs, and similar products across the state have dramatically increased, and without updated smoke-free laws, patrons of all ages are increasingly exposed to second-hand emissions from electronic cigarettes on public transportation, in bars and restaurants, at sporting events, concerts, and in public libraries. 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.”