Statewide and local laws - tobacco products

Learn about state, local, and federal laws regarding tobacco products

Statewide laws regulating tobacco products apply to all communities in the Commonwealth. Statewide laws are passed by the Massachusetts State Legislature and enforced by various state agencies. Many laws limiting youth access to tobacco products and providing protection from secondhand smoke are passed and enforced at the local level.

Complaints, Enforcement of Laws, and Penalties

Statewide laws regulating tobacco

This summary by the Massachusetts Association of Health Boards (MAHB) provides a comprehensive overview of current state tobacco law:

Massachusetts has many laws that govern tobacco:

  • Tobacco excises
  • Smoke-free Workplace Law
  • Laws Regarding Sales to Minors
  • Hiring of Police and Firefighters: Persons who smoke are not eligible for appointment as a police officer or firefighter.
  • State Divestment of Tobacco
  • Ingredient/ Nicotine Disclosure
  • Nicotine Yield Regulations — 105 CMR 660

Local ordinances

Local ordinances and regulations are enacted through local community efforts, often guided by local boards of health and board of health coalitions, funded by the Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation & Prevention Program (MTCP). Many of the cities and towns in Massachusetts have passed tobacco and nicotine delivery product related provisions. These provisions fall into two broad categories:

  • Restricting youth access to tobacco and nicotine delivery products
  • Restricting public exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and e-cigarette vapor

However, nearly every local regulation on these subjects is unique. Many are posted on each respective municipality’s website, or can be obtained from your local board of health.

Federal laws

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also regulates and enforces tobacco-related provisions nationally, such as rules for sales to minors, marketing, packaging requirements, and disclosures.

In July 1992, Congress enacted the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration Reorganization Act, which included an amendment (Section 1926) aimed at reducing youth access to tobacco products. Named for its sponsor, Congressman Mike Synar of Oklahoma, the Synar Amendment requires states to enact and enforce laws prohibiting the sale or distribution of tobacco products to individuals under the age of 18, and to conduct random, unannounced inspections to ensure compliance with the law.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is required to submit the Annual Synar Report to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP). The Annual Synar Report describes the progress that Massachusetts has made in enforcing youth access laws and outlines future plans to reduce the tobacco industry’s influence on youth.

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