The city of Boston is currently weighing the possibility of making 21 years the legal age for buying and using cigarettes among other tobacco products, and Massachusetts lawmakers may go ahead to approve the bill as early as February next year.

The current age for smoking in the state is 21, but lawmakers are considering raising the age bar to discourage early initiation into smoking and to possibly delay health risks associated with the practice.

To this end, about 60 reps and senators have signed the bill making it illegal for youths under the age of 21 to buy tobacco products and for retailers to sell it to them. Offenders may be fined up to $100, and repeat offenders may be penalized up to $300, and the Legislature’s Public Health Committee thinks implementing this law by early 2016 would go a long way to discourage tobacco use.

Needham suburb of Boston was the first in 2005 to raise smoking age to 21, and dozens of other Massachusetts towns also applied the same ordinance to curb smoking among youths. The Board of Health in the state of Boston will be meeting on Thursday and also on December 7 to consider response to Mayor Marty Walsh’s proposed ban to selling tobacco products to youths under 21.

Mayor Walsh had earlier said that it is the responsibility of the community and its leaders to guide young folks from habits that can ruin their health and damage their future, and he added that the health dangers of tobacco are real and devastating to all users.

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New York City made 21 the age for smoking in 2013, and Hawaii became the first US state to implement the ban on January 1 – making it illegal for people under 21 to purchase tobacco products such as cigars, cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and chewing tobacco among others.

Several supporters of this ban across the states have cited medical and academic studies and researchers showing the dangers of smoking, and a March 2015 report from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academics underscores the point that most active smokers begin the habit before the age of 19 – justifying the need to raise the legal age to 21.

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