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Portland's raise of smoking age to 21 goes into effect

If you are under the age of 21, you will no longer be able to buy tobacco products in Portland. (WGME)

PORTLAND (WGME) -- If you are under the age of 21, you will no longer be able to buy tobacco products in Portland.

The Portland City Council approved this new ordinance last month. The change goes into effect Wednesday.

Portland is the first city in Maine to pass an ordinance like this and city leaders hope other communities follow suit.

About 135 U.S. cities and towns already have similar ordinances in place and last year, Hawaii became the first state to raise its tobacco purchasing age from 18 to 21.

City officials say this applies to cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, powdered tobacco, or other tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes.

However, if you're at least 18-years-old you can still legally use these products.

City officials say the purpose is to try and reduce the amount of young tobacco users because statistics show tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in our country and many users start young.

“We know that this is a stepping stone in the right direction of continued public health prevention. It's part of that comprehensive approach, but we also want to make sure we're helping to support healthy life choices and healthy behaviors,” Sarah Mayberry, program coordinator, Portland Public Health, said.

Portland's Public Health Division will be responsible for enforcement. The city says it will conduct compliance checks on business.

If a business is caught selling a tobacco product to someone under the age of 21, it could face up to a $500 fine.

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