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North Andover raises cigarette age to 21

By Paul Tennant ptennant@eagletribune,com

NORTH ANDOVER — North Andover has joined a growing number of communities that prohibit people under the age of 21 from buying cigarettes and other tobacco products.

The Board of Health voted unanimously Thursday night to increase the minimum age for tobacco purchases from 18 to 21. Voting in favor of the change were Dr. Thomas Trowbridge, the chairman, Dr. Frank MacMillan, Larry Fixler and Joseph McCarthy.

Edwin Pease was absent.

The new minimum will take effect Sept. 1, Trowbridge said. Other cities and towns that have raised the tobacco purchase age to 21 include Lawrence, Methuen and Andover.

Cambridge, Salem, Mass., Newton and Needham have also raised the minimum to 21.

New York City has raised the tobacco age to 21 and Hawaii became the first state to do so a couple of weeks ago.

Trowbridge said he and other board members did not want North Andover to become an “island” where young people under 21 could still buy cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products.

“We felt this was a way to help to reduce youth smoking,” Trowbridge said. Sixty-five percent of adult smokers began the nicotine habit when they were between the ages of 18 and 21, Trowbridge said.

State and federal laws prohibit tobacco from being sold to minors under 18. Massachusetts boards of health have the authority to increase the minimum age.

The North Andover Board of Health voted last year to prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes to people under 18. Electronic cigarettes are not made from tobacco – but they contain nicotine.

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