Age to purchase tobacco raised to 21 in Boston

By Katie Sittig-Boyd
Staff Writer

On Monday, Feb. 15, the legal age to purchase tobacco and other smoking products will increase to 21 in Boston, following the Walsh administration’s vote on the matter last December.

The new rules require that individuals must be at least 21 years of age in order to buy tobacco products and e-cigarettes, and to enter “smoking bars” and adult-only retail tobacco stores.

This law puts Boston in the category of more than 80 other communities who have also raised the legal age of tobacco purchase over the last few years.

According to city administration, research indicates that up to 95 percent of adult smokers report starting to smoke before they turn 21 years old, in spite of the fact that only 2 percent of retail tobacco sales are to people between the ages of 18 and 21.

“We know that the vast majority of smokers start when they are in their teens,” said Melissa Tanguay, coordinator of Health, Wellness, and Recreation. “Will increasing the purchasing age to 21 deter all teenagers from smoking? No. But if it deters some teenagers, as studies suggest it will, I see this as a big victory in the fight against smoking.”

Others, such as first-year Ellis Ouellet, were less optimistic. “This does not accomplish much and will just make people who are under 21 ask other people to buy them cigarettes,” said Ouellet. “It also ignores that smoking is a coping mechanism for mentally ill people.”