ARLINGTON (CBS) – Officials in one Massachusetts town will increase the minimum legal age to buy tobacco to 21 years old.

Acting Director of Health and Human Services James Feeney announced on Tuesday that the change will be made as of July 1.

“We know that the earlier people start smoking, the more likely it is to become a habit. We want to stop this trend,” Feeney said.

“Communities throughout the Commonwealth are making this important change, and with Arlington coming on board, we hope to further prevent teenagers and young adults from traveling across city and town lines to purchase tobacco and nicotine delivery products.”

In 2005 Needham raised the purchasing age to 21. As a result, Arlington officials said, smoking rates among Needham students decreased by nearly 50 percent in the first five years of new law.

Arlington’s Board of Health has been working on a three-step plan to raise the purchasing age, this being the final step.

The town’s regulations also banned the sale of tobacco products at health care facilities and pharmacie, leaving 19 businesses in Arlington that have permits to sell tobacco.

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