The Massachusetts Senate last Thursday voted 33 to 3 to pass SB 2571, which would raise the legal age for tobacco use from 18 to 21 years. MHA was a strong supporter of the bill, arguing in its advocacy to the Senate that tobacco and nicotine use is the leading cause of preventable illness and premature death in Massachusetts.
Noting a U.S. Surgeon General report that said almost 95% of tobacco users become addicted to nicotine before age 21, MHA has argued that raising the legal age to 21 for tobacco products makes sense.
In addition to raising the smoking age, and banning the sale of e-cigarettes to those under 21, SB2571 also forbids the sale of tobacco products at healthcare facilities. In its ongoing efforts to reduce tobacco use in the commonwealth, MHA has long argued that it is counterproductive to the collective mission of hospitals and healthcare providers – including pharmacies – to sell tobacco products where healthcare treatment is offered. Almost 90% of MHA hospital members have established completely tobacco-free campuses prohibiting any use on site, and several hospitals have joined MHA in establishing employment practices that screen for tobacco use. The Senate tobacco bill was championed by Sen. Jason Lewis (D-Winchester) and Senate President Harriette Chandler.