MA law makes age to purchase vape, tobacco products 21


Harbinger Archive

A law recently passed in Massachusetts will raise the minimum age to purchase vape and tobacco products. “[The law] is looking at the health and safety of those who might want to get involved with things like vaping,” Northborough Police Department Lieutenant Joe Galvin said.

Starting January 1, the minimum age to purchase tobacco products will be raised from 18 to 21 as a part of legislation passed by the Massachusetts House of Representatives to protect youth from the harmful effects of nicotine.

The new law will also prohibit pharmacies and stores within healthcare facilities from selling tobacco, making Massachusetts the first state in the country to do so. Additionally, it prohibits the use of vapes on school grounds and other public places.

According to Northborough Police Department Lieutenant Joe Galvin, the law is concerned with ensuring the safety of Massachusetts residents.

“[The state is] looking to create a safer environment and look out for the health and welfare of everybody,” Galvin said.

Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives and Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health Kate Hogan believes this law will save lives.

“Smoking simply is killing our kids,” Hogan said to an Associated Press reporter in May. “If young people start smoking before 21, they often become smokers for life.”

Massachusetts will join five other states in raising the minimum purchase age, but anyone already 18 by January 1 will not be affected by the law.

Oftentimes, 18-year-olds are suppliers for younger teens, and since the law does not affect those who are 18 by the time it is implemented, current seniors can still be suppliers for students in other grades. Galvin admits that students will still be able to obtain tobacco products, but does not believe that this law is without merit.

“It will dissuade some, and it will make it more difficult for some [to get tobacco products], but there will always be a segment that will have access or know how to gain access, so you’re never going to eradicate it totally,” Galvin said.

This year the punishment at Algonquin for first time offenders will be more severe than previous years.

“This year we’re going with: caught with the materials or doing it, it’s the same thing to us, and the consequence is going to start a one day out of school suspension,”  Assistant Principal Michele Tontodonato said. “That’s how serious we are about it, and the health effects of it, and the safety of it. “

Senior Mia McAuliffe is aware of the gravity of the teenage vaping problem, but has hope that the law will make an impact.

“I know a lot of kids here who do vape and are addicted and it’s sad to see that because I don’t think a lot of them understand that it’s a lifelong addiction, and this isn’t just a trend,” McAuliffe said. “[The new law] will make it harder for kids to get that stuff and it will turn them off from vaping…At least now seniors can’t go out and buy stuff for younger kids.”