WORCESTER, MASS. >> The Worcester Board of Health has unanimously voted to increase the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products in the city from 18 to 21.

The Telegram & Gazette reports that the new regulation, which goes into effect Sept. 1, was among several tobacco proposals the board had been discussing internally.

Local retailers opposing the measure say the new minimum likely won't have much of a difference on teens who seek out tobacco products.

Chairwoman Abigail Averbach says it has long been a mission of the board to limit Worcester residents' exposure to nicotine.

Dr. Lester Hartman, co-founder of the Tobacco 21 movement, says the new age restriction creates an important "social distancing" effect where young teens can no longer count on fellow students to buy them tobacco.

Information from: Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, Mass.), http://www.telegram.com