May 19, 2024

Brookline, Massachusetts, we find, presents us with the perfect example of a nanny-state government run amok, given their decision to outlaw the purchase of tobacco by anyone born after the year 2000. And, in an example of a court bending to this nonsense, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has upheld the ban.


A Massachusetts town that adopted an unusual ordinance banning the sale of tobacco to anyone born in the 21st century is being looked at as a possible model for other cities and towns hoping to further clamp down on cigarettes and tobacco products.

The bylaw — the first of its kind in the country — was adopted by Brookline in 2020 and last week was upheld by the state’s highest court, opening the door for other communities to adopt similar bans that will, decades from now, eventually bar all future generations from buying tobacco.

The rule, which bans the sale of tobacco to anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 2000, went into effect in 2021 in the town of about 60,000 next to Boston. 

It is belaboring the obvious to note that the people affected by this nitwittery can go to a neighboring town to buy smokes. Even if this were to go statewide, which frankly in Massachusetts wouldn’t be overly surprising, the only likely result would be creating an instant black market in tobacco products.

Area retailers have brought up some good points in their objections to this nanny-state ordinance.

Critics of the Brookline law, including convenience store owners who rely on the sales of tobacco products for a significant portion of their income, disagreed however, arguing that the Brookline law conflicts with the 2018 state law which allows those over the age of 21 to purchase tobacco products — and would establish two sets of adults, one that could buy cigarettes and one that couldn’t.


That would seem to run afoul of the legal principle of equal treatment under the law, as an adult who turned 21 and who was born on January 1st, 2001, would be prohibited from buying smokes, while an adult who turned 21 and was born on December 31st, 1999, would be free to do so. Then again, nanny-state nincompoopery is anything but intellectually consistent.

See Related: Proposed Legislation in Tennessee Aims to Prohibit Retailers From Selling Cold Beer and Alcohol 

Nanny State Nonsense: Florida Legislature Set to Ban Certain Hemp Products

New Zealand has a similar law already in place, while the United Kingdom is reportedly considering a crackdown on tobacco as well. Because, after all, we can’t allow people to make choices that our betters disapprove of, right?

Robert Heinlein, when discussing human nature, famously said the following:

The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.

Too many people, including (obviously) the town council of Brookline, Massachusetts, fall into the former category.

It is interesting to see how many of our supposed betters feel the compelling need to nanny other folks. As a casual smoker myself (2-3 cigars a month) I can say honestly that my cigars are a choice I make, knowing the risks, and enjoying a fine smoke in moderation is something I will continue to do. The adults of Brookline, Massachusetts should be free to make the same choices, knowing the risks, and accepting the consequences of their choices, as free people do.


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