With the New Year comes a new Massachusetts state law boosting the minimum age for the purchase of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to 21.
The new law comes on the heels of data showing that teens are turning to e-cigarettes and other vaping devices in alarming numbers, rolling back decades of progress in reducing smoking rates among U.S. youth.
Considering that nicotine is harmful to the developing brains of people 25 and younger, it may be surprising to know that the new law makes Massachusetts just the sixth state to restrict the sale of tobacco products to individuals 21 years or older.
Researchers have also found that e-cigarette usage is a gateway to smoking conventional cigarettes. According to a University of Southern California study, teenagers who try e-cigarettes and other electronic vaping devices are six times more likely to take up smoking cigarettes and using other tobacco products.
“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 the American Lung Association, according to Wicked Local.
“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,” he added.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) chief Scott Gottlieb has taken a series of measures aimed at reducing e-cigarette usage among teens and children after studies showed U.S. youth were vaping in epidemic proportions.
According to a University of Michigan study and a federal analysis, more than 1.3 million high school students started vaping in 2017. The rate of e-cigarette usage among high schoolers was especially high, with one in five high school seniors using e-cigarettes.
The other states where 21 is the legal age to purchase tobacco products are California, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, and Oregon.