A newly implemented ordinance in Brookline, Norfolk County (MA) could shape US tobacco laws of the future.
a gradual approach to solving a big problem
A newly implemented ordinance the picturesque Boston suburb of Brookline, Norfolk County, MA, aims to tackle tobacco and vaping simply by not adding to the problem. — “It’s a gradual approach to solving a problem most of us agree is a big problem,” family law professor and co-sponsor Kate Silbaugh told CBS Boston.
Since September 2021 when the ordinance went into effect, there legally cannot be new users
No one born after January 1, 2000 will ever be allowed to buy tobacco products in Brookline, Massachussets.
“[The tobacco industry is] always trying to figure out how to get new users and particularly target people who are vulnerable – either by age or understanding of the damages,” co-sponsor Anthony Ishak, who lives in Brookline and works as a pharmacist, told CBS Boston’s Juli McDonald.
The ordinance does not affect existing users or business.
“It leaves them alone. It says we know you would like to quit. We’re not trying to pick on you because we know it’s incredibly hard to quit,” said Silbaugh.
That’s something many young people have already seen firsthand in older relatives and peers.
“Both of my grandparents smoked their entire life and one of them passed away from lung cancer. It’s really hard to quit,” said a young Brookline resident.
“Every time somebody tells them, ‘hey you need to stop smoking,’ it’s not that easy. Maybe stopping it from the root is great?” her friend added.
Up the street and anyplace else in Massachusetts, tobacco is legal for adults 21 and older. This parent pointed out a lot of communities would have to follow suit for this to work.
“It does sound a bit draconian. But yeah, with little kids I’d prefer they stay away from tobacco personally. There are enough dangers in the world,” the father told CBS.
Source: CBS Local Boston
The new law works on your birth date not your age
The ordinance, co-sponsored by Silbaugh and pharmacist and fellow town meeting member Anthony Ishak, ties the right to buy tobacco not to age, but to birth date.
At the federal level, Americans can buy cigarettes, vapes and cigars when they turn 21. But in Brookline, anyone born after Jan. 1, 2000 will never be able to legally buy tobacco or vaping products, not even as time passes and they turn 22 or 30 or 50—the goal being to keep younger generations from adopting a habit that may well kill them.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office signed off on the policy in July, and it went into effect in September.
Could this be the death knell for tobacco in the USA?
- In one recent study of Australian adults, just over half—and almost 32% of current smokers—said they’d support an eventual phase-out of cigarette sales.
- In addition to their proposed Tobacco Free Generation] (TFG) policy, New Zealand lawmakers have pledged to make their country virtually smoke-free by 2025
- Finland has set a similar goal for 2040. Even in the U.S., where individual liberty is sacrosanct, a quarter of adults said in a 2018 Gallup poll that smoking should be banned outright. Clearly, that’s a long way from a majority, but it’s up from 11% in the 1990s.
- Jamie Ducharme for TIME has taken a really deep dive into this story. For a long read on this very topic, click here.
- Boston University Today Q&A with LAW’s Katharine Silbaugh, cosponsor of the new first-in-the nation ordinance linking tobacco sales to birth date, click here.
- To read or download/print the ordinance itself, click here.