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Massachusetts becomes first US state to impose tough restrictions on tobacco, vape flavors and menthol cigarettes

Beginning June 1, 2020, the state will limit the sale of flavored nicotine vaping products, menthol cigarettes and flavored chewing tobacco to licensed smoking bars, where they may only be smoked on-site
UPDATED FEB 12, 2020
(Source: Getty Images)
(Source: Getty Images)

Massachusetts has become the first US state to take a strict stance on the vaping crisis after Governor Charlie Baker signed a new law legislation prohibiting the sale of e-cigarette, nicotine vaping and flavored tobacco products.
The new law, which goes into motion on June 1, 2020, will limit the sale of flavored nicotine vaping products, menthol cigarettes and flavored chewing tobacco to licensed smoking bars, where they may only be smoked on-site. 

The new law also imposes a 75% excise tax on the wholesale price of nicotine vaping products, in addition to the 6.75% sales tax. The law enables public health officials to regulate the products.

The announcement comes after the Governor had announced a temporary ban in September. Instead of ending on December 24, the temporary ban will now end on December 11.

"In light of the growing health crisis associated with e-cigarettes and vaping, our administration implemented a temporary ban on the sale of e-cigarette and vaping products to provide time for legislative and regulatory bodies to better understand what's making people sick and act to protect the health of Massachusetts residents," says Governor Charlie Baker in a statement.

He adds, "Today, as we sign this new legislation implementing new restrictions on vaping and tobacco products, we are also keeping the temporary ban in place as the Department of Public Health develops permanent regulations that will ensure risks are known to consumers, clarify what interventions DPH can take to address clear risks identified by the developing science, and ensure sellers are not skirting the new law and selling to kids."

The new law legislation prohibits the sale of e-cigarette and nicotine vaping products, including menthol cigarettes (Getty Images)

The idea behind the law is to protect the youth from the vaping crisis that has gripped the nation. In 2018, the US Food and Drug Administration reported that over 3.6 million children were using e-cigarettes.

According to Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, e-cigarettes have today become the most commonly used form of tobacco among youth in Massachusetts. This legislation will further restrict the sale of nicotine containing products to minors, providing the opportunity for them to live healthy, safe lives.

From September 11, Massachusetts has recorded a total of 82 cases —26 confirmed and 56 probable cases of vaping-related illness. As of November 6, three people are confirmed to have died of vaping-associated lung injury, including two women who vaped nicotine and a man reported to have vaped both nicotine and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) has found evidence to show that THC and vitamin E acetate may have a role to play in the epidemic. So far, more than  2,000 Americans are suffering from e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury (EVALI). The death toll now stands 47.

However, not all are convinced. The Vapor Technology Association, which has challenged Massachusetts' temporary vaping ban in state court, said a better strategy than the ban might be more effective.

They propose raising the age to purchase tobacco and nicotine vapor products to 21 and to impose stricter marketing standards on companies, according to reports.
"A ban will drive people back to combustible cigarettes, the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the US, or lead to illegal sales with a new and larger black market," says the organization in a statement.