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Six Brothers, Inc., et al. v. Town of Brookline


(Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, March 8, 2024): The highest court in Massachusetts upheld a local law that prohibits the sale of tobacco products to anyone not yet age 21 as of the effective date of the law, a so-called Tobacco-Free Generation law. Retailers challenged the local law arguing that the state law establishing 21 as the age of access to tobacco products preempts local laws regulating tobacco sales by age. The Court rejected that argument, finding no conflict between the local and state laws. Retailers also argued that the local law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights. The Court rejected this argument because the prohibition on tobacco sales to a new generation is rationally related to the Town’s legitimate interest in public health. The Court noted that the Tobacco-Free Generation provision falls short of a complete ban on the sale of tobacco products. Now at least four Massachusetts towns have passed Tobacco-Free Generation laws, and more are pending. Read the full decision here.

View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – May 14, 2024.

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