Starting tomorrow, you have to be 21 to buy cigarettes in Portland

If you’re under 21, today is the last day you can legally purchase cigarettes in Portland.

The city issued a statement Tuesday instructing local businesses to “cease sales of all tobacco products to persons under the age of 21 and post a notice notifying customers of the prohibition,” putting into effect an ordinance passed unanimously by the City Council in June.

Cigarette buts grace an ashtray atop a trashcan in Portland's Monument Square in a 2013 file photo. (Troy R. Bennett | BDN)

Cigarette buts grace an ashtray atop a trashcan in Portland’s Monument Square in a 2013 file photo. (Troy R. Bennett | BDN)

Portland is the first city in Maine to raise the age to buy tobacco to the same level required to buy alcohol, but the decision comes as part of a national trend. More than 100 municipalities nationwide have passed similar ordinances, including Boston, New York City and Chicago.

California and Hawaii have enacted it at the state level.

Other Maine communities are also reevaluating their approach to smoking. Bangor’s municipal government is contemplating banning smoking in city parks, following Portland’s ordinance passed in 2006.

Portland’s new restrictions cover all tobacco products and also apply to tobacco-free electronic cigarettes, which can but do not always contain nicotine. Retailers found to be selling tobacco to persons under 21 can be fined between $50 and $500 by the city.

The legal smoking age in Maine remains 18.