Amendments to the City of Boston’s tobacco regulations have been approved by the Boston Board of Health, which raises the minimum legal age to purchase tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, from 18 years old to 21 years old, according to a press release.
The amendments will go into effect on Feb.15.
“I am proud to stand with our Board of Health in support of updating Boston’s tobacco regulations. It is our responsibility to do what we can to guide our young people and create a healthier future for all Bostonians,” said Mayor Martin Walsh, according to a press release. “We know the consequences of tobacco use are real and can be devastating. These changes send a strong message that Boston takes the issue of preventing tobacco addiction seriously, and I hope that message is heard throughout Boston and across the entire country.”
More than 85 other municipalities in Massachusetts have already changed the minimum legal age for tobacco sales to 21.
According to the Boston Board of Health, youth use of electronic cigarettes and flavored tobacco products is rising, which prompted these amendments. However, youth cigarette use in Boston has declined from 15.3 percent in 2005 to 7.9 percent in 2013, which is below the national average of 15.7 percent.
The years between ages 18 and 21 are proven to be crucial years where young people transition from experimenting with tobacco to becoming regular users; 95 percent of adult smokers began smoking before they turned 21. According to the Mayor’s Office press release, “Boston’s latest amendments are aimed at preventing teenagers from starting smoking by removing the sources of tobacco products from their social networks.”
“Despite major gains in reducing the number of adults and youth who smoke cigarettes, smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, contributing to more deaths than HIV, illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle accidents, and firearm-related incidents combined, so reducing the number of young people who ever start smoking is the single most important thing we can to promote long-term health,” said Dr. Huy Nguyen, interim executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission, according to the press release.