The Massachusetts Senate voted 32 to 2 on Thursday to raise the state’s tobacco purchase age from 18 to 21, passing legislation that supporters said would cut down youth tobacco use and nicotine addiction.
The bill, compiled by the Joint Committee on Public Health based on several separate pieces of legislation, also bans pharmacies and health care institutions from selling tobacco products and prohibits the use of electronic cigarettes in places where smoking is already banned.
Sen. Jason Lewis, who co-chairs the Public Health Committee, said that about half of the state’s population lives in municipalities that have adopted local regulations setting 21 as the minimum age to purchase tobacco.
Lewis, a Winchester Democrat, said the three-year increase will help keep tobacco out of middle- and high-school social networks, making it harder for younger teens to get cigarettes and other tobacco products from their older peers.
The bill would also need approval from the House before heading to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk. Baker has said he “conceptually” supports the smoking age increase but wants to see the specifics of any legislative proposal.