IPCPR Legislative | Restrictions in Massachusetts

Restrictions in Massachusetts


Smoking, Age and Sampling Restrictions in Massachusetts

Massachusetts state law prohibits smoking in workplaces, work spaces, common work areas, classrooms, conference and meeting rooms, offices, elevators, hallways, medical facilities, cafeterias, employee lounges, staircases, restrooms, restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, food courts or concessions, supermarkets or retail food outlets, bars, taverns, or in a place where food or drink is sold to the public and consumed on the premises as part of a business required to collect state meals tax on the purchase; or in a train, airplane, theatre, concert hall, exhibition hall, convention center, auditorium, arena, or stadium open to the public; or in a school, college, university, museum, library, health care facility, group child care center, school age child care center, family child care center, school age day or overnight camp building, or on premises where activities are licensed under section 38 of chapter 10, or in or upon any public transportation conveyance or in any airport, train station, bus station, transportation passenger terminal, or enclosed outdoor platform.


State law also prohibits smoking in the state house or in a public building or in a vehicle or vessel owned, leased, or otherwise operated by the commonwealth, or in a space occupied by a state agency or department of the commonwealth which is located in another building, including a private office in a building or space mentioned in this sentence, or at an open meeting of a governmental body, or in a courtroom or courthouse.


Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 270 §22(b)


Cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products must be placed out of reach of all consumers, and in a location accessible only to retail outlet personnel.


940 Code Mass. Regs 21.04(2)


Massachusetts law contains no specific provisions concerning state preemption of local laws on smoking, so local communities are allowed to pass stronger laws or ordinances further restricting this area.




The following are exempt from the ban on smoking, subject to conditions:

  • Private residences, except when used as a childcare center or other business
  • Premises occupied by a membership association, except when the premises are:
    • open to the public; or
    • occupied by a non-member who is not an invited guest of a member or an employee of the association; or
    • rented from the association for a fee or other agreement that compensates the association for the use of such space
  • Designated hotel, motel, inn, bed and breakfast or lodging home rooms
  • A retail tobacco store, if the store maintains a valid permit for the sale of tobacco products issued by the appropriate authority in the city or town in which the retail tobacco store is located. All required permits must be displayed in a conspicuous manner, visible at all times to patrons of the establishment.
  • A smoking bar, if the smoking bar obtains a valid Smoking Bar Permit by submitting an Application for Smoking Bar Permit (Form SBP) and filing a Smoking Bar Quarterly Declaration (Form SBQD). All required permits must be displayed in a conspicuous manner, visible at all times to patrons of the establishment, along with clear signs at all entrances that warn that smoking may be present on the premises, that persons under the age of 18 may not enter, and of the health risks associated with second hand smoke.
  • A theatrical performer upon a stage or in the course of a professional film production, if the smoking is part of a theatrical production, and if permission has been obtained from the appropriate local authority
  • A person, organization or other entity that conducts medical or scientific research on tobacco products, if the research is conducted in an enclosed space not open to the public, in a laboratory facility at an accredited college or university, or in a professional testing laboratory as defined by regulation of the department of public health
  • Religious ceremonies where smoking is part of the ritual; and
  • A tobacco farmer, leaf dealer, manufacturer, importer, exporter, or wholesale distributor of tobacco products, may permit smoking in the workplace for the sole purpose of testing said tobacco for quality assurance purposes; if the smoking is necessary to conduct the test.


Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 270 §22(c)

Massachusetts does not have a law prohibiting the underage purchase and/or underage possession of tobacco products by minors. However, it is illegal to sell a cigarette, chewing tobacco, snuff, cigarette papers, or any tobacco in any of its forms to any person under the age of 18. It is also illegal for anyone other than a parent or guardian to give any of the above products to any person under the age of 18.


Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 270 §6 and §6A


Stores selling tobacco products must conspicuously post a sign stating that it is illegal to sell tobacco products to any person under the age of 18.


Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 270 §7


Store clerks must verify the age of any customer wishing to buy tobacco who looks younger than 27 years of age, with a valid government-issued photo identification card.


940 Code Mass. Regs 21.04(2)(b)


The definition of “retail tobacco store,” requires that the establishment prohibit persons under the age of 18 at all times.


Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 270 §22(a)


Stronger local laws or ordinances further restricting youth access to tobacco products are generally allowed. In fact, may communities have already raised the minimum legal sales age for tobacco products to 19 or 21.


However, additional regulation of the sale of cigarette rolling papers is prohibited.


Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 270 § 6A

Federal regulations prohibit free samples of cigarettes and limit free samples of smokeless tobacco products to certain age-restricted venues under several conditions.


Regulations Restricting the Sale, Distribution, and Marketing of Cigarettes, Cigarette Tobacco, and Smokeless Tobacco: Consumer Fact Sheet


In Massachusetts, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers are prohibited from engaging in the following sales practices, subject to several exceptions:

  • Sampling, promotional give-aways, or any other free distribution of cigarettes or smokeless tobacco products
  • Breaking or otherwise opening any cigarette or smokeless tobacco product package to sell or distribute any number of unpackaged or repackaged cigarettes or any quantity of smokeless tobacco that is smaller than the smallest package distributed by the manufacturer for individual consumer use
  • Using self-service displays of cigarettes or smokeless tobacco products.


940 Code Mass. Regs 21.04(1)-(2)


The following retail sales practices are not prohibited:

  • Mail-order sales, excluding distribution of free samples through the mail, that are subject to verification that the purchaser is not younger than 18 years old.
  • Self-service displays that are located within adult-only retail facilities.
  • Within an adult-only retail facility, distribution of no more than one free sample per day to an individual adult. “Sample” means the smallest size package distributed by the manufacturer for individual consumer use.


940 Code Mass. Regs 21.04(4)


Massachusetts law expressly allows any city, town, or board of health to enact or enforce any more restrictive ordinance, bylaw, regulation, or rule regulating the sale, use, or distribution of tobacco products, provided that it is not inconsistent with state law.


940 Code Mass. Regs 21.05


Free samples are subject to the Massachusetts tobacco tax, as the words “sales” or “sale” also apply to gifts, exchanges, and bartering.


Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 64C §1

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