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NATIONAL REPORT — Legislative measures to increase the minimum legal age to buy tobacco products to 21 have been passed in at least 200 municipalities and counties across the United States.
The Tobacco 21 movement reached the milestone on Sept. 26 when the city council in Liberty, Mo., approved legislation. In addition to local efforts, Hawaii and California have increased the new age requirement on a statewide basis.
Statewide legislation is under consideration in several other states, including Massachusetts, New Jersey and Washington State, as well as in Washington, D.C., according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Federal legislation was introduced in September 2015 but has since stalled.
Massachusetts appears to be leading the charge. As of Aug. 1, Tobacco 21 measures have been approved in more than 130 cities. Egremont and Northampton were among the most recent Massachusetts localities to adopt the new age.
However, not all lawmakers are getting behind the local movement. In Michigan, State Sen. Rick Jones introduced legislation to protect small business owners against city ordinances that conflict with state law. The move comes on the heels of a new local ordinance in Ann Arbor that prohibits the sale of cigarettes to people under age 21. It was the first city in Michigan to raise the legal purchasing age above 18.
"This local law will do absolutely nothing to stop people from smoking; they will simply drive just outside the city and purchase what they want," said Jones (R-Grand Ledge). "However, it will really harm the owners of small mom and pop stores and gas stations in the city who are just trying to make a living."