NECSEMA Launches Campaign Opposing Generational Tobacco Bans

Citizens for Adult Choice urges legislators, local officials to oppose bans on age-restricted products.

May 21, 2024

The New England Convenience Store and Energy Marketers Association (NECSEMA) launched a grassroots campaign this week to oppose generational bans on tobacco and nicotine products. The Association said that “generational bans threaten civil liberties in Massachusetts and, if unopposed, would inevitably lead to local prohibitions on a host of other products, including gambling, alcohol, cannabis, sugary drinks, fatty foods, caffeine and more.”

Citizens for Adult Choice seeks to educate legislators and local officials on the implications of local tobacco and nicotine bans for adults born after a particular date. The state’s highest court recently upheld a Brookline bylaw that banned all tobacco and nicotine sales for life to adults born after January 1, 2000. Now, other neighboring communities in the state are following suit, “enacting bylaws in little-publicized hearings that forever bar adults from purchasing legal products in their hometowns.”

“These policies set a disturbing precedent by granting authority to local boards of health to unilaterally decide if you’re ‘adult enough’ to buy products that are legal statewide and nationwide. It’s outrageous and anyone who cares about civil liberties should be concerned,” said Alex Weatherall, NECSEMA president. “This is the definition of a slippery slope. Local officials, most of whom are unelected, are imposing their morality on citizens of the Commonwealth. Think about it: today tobacco, tomorrow beer, cannabis, lottery, scratch tickets, sugary drinks, fatty foods, anything they disapprove of. We’ve created Citizens for Adult Choice to educate the public about the dangers these local bans pose for law-abiding adults in Massachusetts.”

Peter Brennan, NECSEMA’s executive director, added: “Local governments are crossing a line in banning adults over the age of 21 from buying or using nicotine products. If the anti-nicotine zealots have their way, it will remain legal to buy and use every imaginable form of cannabis or to gamble on sports 24/7, yet those same adults can’t buy a cigar for a wedding or a nicotine pouch to relax. It’s time to deliver a reality check to the politicians and local officials and stop these blatant attacks on adult rights.”

Proponents of the birthdate-mandated bans in Brookline and other Massachusetts towns tout the benefits of curbing youth smoking, but NECSEMA argues that “these prohibitions do nothing to address underage smoking as they impact adults only. Also, such bans not only prohibit cigarette sales but they also ban chewing tobacco, cigars and even nicotine products used by smokers trying to quit.”

Last month, the House in the United Kingdom passed a bill banning tobacco sales for anyone born after 2009 in a move to create a “smoke-free generation,” reported NACS Daily. The bill will raise the age of tobacco sales by one year every year, with the aim of stopping today’s young people from ever taking up smoking. The House of Lords is expected to vote on the bill for final approval in June.

Other countries have implemented strict anti-tobacco laws in recent years—the Portuguese government released plans last May that will extend a ban on public smoking and limit tobacco sales to create a “tobacco-free generation” by 2040.