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News Brief: Mass. Senate passes legislation to protect youth from tobacco, nicotine addiction

By Monday, Jul 2, 2018 News 1

Mass. Senate passes legislation to protect youth from tobacco, nicotine addiction

Boston — Sen. Adam G. Hinds, D-Pittsfield, has announced that the Massachusetts Senate Thursday engrossed comprehensive legislation to reduce youth access to tobacco and nicotine products. Tobacco use and nicotine addiction remains the leading cause of preventable illness and premature death in Massachusetts, responsible for more than $4 billion in annual health care costs to the Commonwealth. The bill, H.4486, “An Act Protecting Youth from the Health Risks of Tobacco and Nicotine Addiction,” raises the minimum legal sales age for all tobacco products to age 21; adds vaping products to the smoke free workplace law; and prohibits the sale of tobacco products in health care institutions, including pharmacies.

Other provisions included in the bill include new authority granted to the Department of Public Health to regulate new, emerging tobacco products; and language requiring the Center for Health Information and Analysis to study the current tobacco cessation benefits offered by commercial insurers, MassHealth and the Group Insurance Commission.

Many cities and towns have enacted policies to reduce tobacco use and nicotine addiction that go beyond current state and federal laws and regulations, creating a patchwork of different laws across the commonwealth that can confound retailers, distributors, consumers and public health officials. The legislation will provide a uniform statewide set of rules that protect youth and simplify the interaction between state and local laws.

The bill will now return to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, which engrossed it in May, for final legislative enactment.

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