BOSTON — You may soon have to be at least 21 to buy a pack of cigarettes in Boston.

The city’s Board of Health is scheduled to vote Thursday on Mayor Marty Walsh’s proposal to increase the legal age for purchasing tobacco products from 18 to 21. If approved, the new rules would take effect early in 2016.

Walsh says he to hopes it will discourage young people from taking up smoking.

A coalition of retailers, convenience store operators and gas stations opposes a change in the legal age for buying tobacco. They say there are better ways to get at teen smoking.

Dozens of smaller Massachusetts communities have already boosted the legal age to 21, and a bill pending on Beacon Hill calls for doing it on a statewide basis.

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