Massachusetts adopts tough ban on flavoured vaping, tobacco products

Andrew Cummings
November 29, 2019

MA became the first state to ban flavored tobacco and nicotine vaping products, including menthol cigarettes, after Republican Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law on Wednesday a bill that's meant to reduce the appeal of the products to young people amid a rash of illnesses and deaths linked to vaping.

The unusual legislation particularly restricts sale of the products to licensed smoking bars such as cigar bars and hookah lounges, where they'll finest be allowed to be consumed on-blueprint.

The industry group campaigned for months to stop the inclusion of menthol and mint tobacco products in the newly signed legislation, arguing it will have detrimental effects on public safety because consumers will be pushed out of the regulated market and turn to illicit sellers.

Sales of vaping products with a nicotine content higher than 35 milligrams per milliliter will be restricted to adult-only tobacco shops and smoking bars.

The confusion stems from the fact that Marte's customers, who are primarily African Americans and Latinos, know that mint and menthol products "have nothing to do with the vaping epidemic".

Anti-smoking groups hailed the initiative, which restricts the sale and consumption of flavoured vaping products immediately and that of menthol cigarettes from June 1, 2020.

"This is not a nanny state effort", said Healey, a Democrat.

"We remain committed to doing everything we can to protect the public health", Baker said during a news conference.

Governor Charlie Baker on Wednesday also announced that the state's temporary ban on vaping product sales will now end on December 11, when public health officials are set to adopt a new set of permanent vaping regulations.

Pitched as a way to help protect children from the dangers of nicotine addiction but criticized by adult e-cigarette users, retailers and lawmakers from border communities, the legislation also imposes a 75% excise tax on vaping products.

Baker did not offer details on how the state intends to enforce the law.

He added: "Clearing the market of all flavored tobacco products is critical to addressing the youth e-cigarette epidemic". "I happen to believe that the positive consequences in this one outweigh the negative ones".

The bill Baker signed is based on legislation that passed the House 127-31 and the Senate 32-6 earlier this month. During the debates, some lawmakers said they were anxious about the impact on retailers, particularly those near the borders of other states where flavored tobacco would still be available.

"California is once again leaving kids vulnerable to the lure of flavored tobacco products while MA becomes the leader in addressing the current youth e-cigarette epidemic, now one of the nation's biggest public health threats", according to the statement.

The temporary ban, first issued in September, was a response to the growing cases of lung injuries linked to e-cigarettes, which have climbed to 2,290 nationwide as of last week. It's happening at the municipal level, it's happening at the state level, it's happening in many places around the country.

He says it's "increasingly clear" that the federal government "isn't going to act decisively".

House Speaker Robert DeLeo said he's "hoping and praying" that other states will follow Massachusetts' lead, and advocates praised the Bay State for its first-in-the-nation law.

Few inquired about the ban, but Marte said when he tells his customers that he'll be taking flavored cigarettes off the shelf, they're often confused.

"With this vote, the City Council is moving to ban the fruity, minty, candy-like flavors of e-cigarettes which were clearly created to appeal to young people in the first place".

Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, said adult vapers in MA should do whatever it takes to remain smoke-free, even if means violating what he described as unjust laws.

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