Eighteen-year-olds can no longer legally buy cigarettes in Brookline, as a measure spearheaded by high school students to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products kicked in over the weekend.
The new law took effect on Saturday, June 1, and will affect 28 retailers in Brookline, which can no longer legally sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 19, according to Wesley Chin, the tobacco control program coordinator for Brookline.
The change to local tobacco laws was an initiative led by Eric Dumas and fellow members of the Peer Leadership Group at Brookline High School in 2012. Dumas, who graduated last year, and his classmates, asked the town to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco in an effort to cut down on smoking by students at Brookline High School.
Brookline’s Town Meeting approved the idea by an overwhelming margin of 169-1, and the town joins Needham, which was the first community in the state to hike the minimum age to buy tobacco from 18 to 19 in 2003, and now sets the minimum age at 21 years old. Other communities, including Belmont, Arlington and Dover have also approved raising the minimum age to buy tobacco in the past year.
“A regulation aimed at increasing the purchase age of tobacco to nineteen is good public health policy, as research suggests that those who delay the onset of smoking are less likely to develop a smoking habit,” said Alan Balsam, Brookline’s director of public health and human services, in a statement Monday.
Brookline health officials said that research has shown that about 90 percent of current smokers become addicted before the age of 18, and as a result the Brookline Department of Public Health is focusing efforts on prevention and placing an added obstacle to deter teenagers from addiction.