If you’re under the age of 21, buying tobacco or vaping products in Massachusetts could soon be a thing of the past.
A new bill is one step closer to raising the age from 18. While some support the decision, there are others who say it will do more harm than good.
Ashuar Quaseem moved to Massachusetts from New York with a dream: to open his own business. He started Uniq Vapes in Berkshire Mall three years ago. Everything was going according to plan but then sales started to decline.
But not because of anything he’s done; rather, because of a new policy in Lanesborough and many other parts of the Berkshires. If you’re under 21, you can’t shop at his store.
“It is very frustrating,” Quaseem said.
And it doesn’t just hit his customer base. He also can’t have any employees under the age of 21. Right now, he has a handful of staff.
“Now I have to either let them go or find someone else as a supervisor,” he said.
The law could become statewide. The Massachusetts House has voted to implement it, and now it will need to pass in the senate.
Even in principle, Quaseem doesn’t understand.
“You’re allowed to vote when you’re 18; you’re allowed to make other life decisions when you’re 18; you make mistakes you get treated and punished as an adult; but for buying tobacco, you need to be 21?” he said.
Not everyone sees it as a bad thing. Abraham Fouz, of Pittsfield, started smoking when he was 20.
“I tried to quit for, like, a year, and I just went right back to it,” he said.
He wishes the law had been in effect. Meanwhile, Lee native Scott Kearin isn’t so sure.
“I don’t know how effective it will be,” he said.
Kearin said, just like alcohol, if teenagers want to smoke, they’ll find a way. What it really comes down to is what’s being taught at home.
“If their parents catch it, whatever, it’s a slap on the wrist,” he said.
New York is looking into a similar law.