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June 26, 1987

Laws Ban Minors' Tobacco Purchases, but Enforcement Is Another Matter

JAMA. 1987;257(24):3323-3324. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390240013003

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GREGORY CONNOLLY, DMD, says that recently, on his way to give a speech about tobacco and minors, he stopped into a local convenience store in Massachusetts to buy a soft drink. A 15-year-old boy in front of him in the checkout line was buying a pack of Marlboros. Connolly says he decided to speak up, though he claims he is usually not the type to be so bold. The clerk, he says, "laughed."

Connolly repeated himself. There is a law against the sale of tobacco to minors in Massachusetts, he said. Again, the clerk laughed, and told him that there was no such law. So, Connolly pulled out his badge as director of the Office for Nonsmoking and Health of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. He threatened to call the police.

At this point, Connolly says, "It turned into something like out of a Woody Allen movie. It was