Portland, Maine, Presses Toward Raising Tobacco Buying Age to 21

A city council subcommittee has begun work on the measure.

April 27, 2016

PORTLAND, Maine – The Portland City Council unanimously approved tasking its Health and Human Services Committee with drafting a proposal to raise the tobacco buying age from 18 to 21, the Portland Press Herald reports. If approved, Portland would become the first locality in Maine to have a higher tobacco purchase age.

The new ordinance would pertain to both traditional tobacco sellers and e-cigarette vendors. The subcommittee will submit its proposal to the council for a public hearing and vote. Tobacco business owners have expressed dismay about the proposal.

“The city of Portland leads when it comes to public health,” said Dr. Richard Veilleux of Maine Medical Center and the incoming chairman of the American Heart Association of Maine’s board of directors. “We do think this would make a big difference.”

California and Hawaii passed laws to raise the smoking age to 21, with several other states, including Vermont, also mulling such a change. For more on why states and municipalities continue to increase the age limit for tobacco purchases, read “Must Be 21 to Buy” in the March issue of NACS Magazine.