BOSTON (AP) — A new push is underway at the Statehouse by advocates for a higher legal age for purchasing tobacco in Massachusetts.

More than 100 cities and towns, including Boston, have already raised the minimum age for buying cigarettes and other tobacco products from 18 to 21. A bill that would make that the law statewide was heard Tuesday by the Legislature's public health committee.

A similar bill made it through the state Senate last year but did not come up for a final vote in the House.

Backers say the majority of adult smokers began the tobacco habit while still in their teens.

Retailers say convenience stores and other small businesses would suffer if the bill passes.

California and Hawaii have raised the legal tobacco age to 21.

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