Massachusetts may soon join a growing number of cities and states across the country to entertain the prospect of keeping legal tobacco away from its 18-year-olds.

As reported by the AP Saturday, the state's lawmakers are in the midst of deciding whether to continue plans on a proposed bill that would lift the minimum age limit to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 — nearly 60 House representatives and senators have presently signed onto. Meanwhile, the flagship city of Boston is set to debate the merits of such a law in less than a week, with the Boston Board of Health hosting a meeting this upcoming Thursday to discuss a similar proposal from Mayor Marty Walsh.

"It is our responsibility to do what we can to guide our young people and create a healthier future for all Bostonians," Walsh said in a statement earlier this November. "We know the consequences of tobacco use are real and can be devastating."

Walsh's proposal and the possible Massachusetts bill are the latest sign of a losing battle to maintain the smoking status quo around youth tobacco use. Hawaii will become the first state with a 21 or older limit on tobacco this Jan. 1, while others like California have successfully sent bills through their Senate but haven't yet come to a final decision. The AP reported in 2013, New York City became one of the largest cities to enforce a new age limit, while dozens of towns in Massachusetts have already taken the leap and erected their own local ordinances.

Though raising the tobacco age limit has been a popular suggestion among public health experts for some time, its current momentum was likely elevated by a March 2015 report commissioned by the Food and Drug Administration and produced by the Institute of Medicine. In it, the researchers calculated the future health and societal benefits of raising the minimum legal age (MLA), going as high as 25 but ultimately settling on 21 as the most feasible and productive scenario.

"The public health impact of raising the MLA for tobacco products depends on the degree to which local and state governments change their policies," the researchers wrote. "Overall, in the absence of transformative changes in the tobacco market, social norms and attitudes, or in the knowledge of patterns and causes of tobacco use, the committee is reasonably confident that raising the MLA will reduce tobacco use initiation, particularly among adolescents 15 to 17 years of age; improve the health of Americans across the lifespan; and save lives."

Should Boston's Board of Health meeting proceed as expected, the city is likely to vote on the matter this upcoming Dec. 17. The statewide bill may be up for discussion as early as next year.