New law signed by Republican governor will also outlaw menthol cigarettes and places a 75% excise tax on e-cigarettes
Massachusetts has adopted America’s toughest ban on the sale of flavored tobacco and vaping products, including menthol cigarettes, in response to a rise in youth vaping and an outbreak of vaping-related serious lung injuries.
Charlie Baker, the Republican governor, signed into law legislation passed by the state’s Democrat-controlled legislature earlier this month that also places a 75% excise tax on e-cigarettes.
Several other states have recently adopted emergency bans on the sale of flavored vaping products amid a nationwide outbreak of lung injuries among e-cigarette users and concerns about the growing popularity of the products among high school and middle school students.
The American Cancer Society and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids say Baker’s signature makes Massachusetts the first to enact a permanent statewide ban. It immediately bans the sale of flavored vaping products and will outlaw sales of menthol cigarettes starting 1 June 2020.
“We remain committed to doing everything we can to protect the public health,” Baker said during a news conference.
The law was enacted amid public alarm over a mysterious US vaping-related respiratory illness that has sickened nearly 2,300 people and resulted in 47 deaths, according to government officials.
Health officials investigating the lung injuries have identified vitamin E acetate, believed to be used as a cutting agent in illicit vaping products containing marijuana components, as a “chemical of concern” in the outbreak.
The outbreak has coincided with the rising popularity of flavored vaping products among underage users, creating concerns about a new generation of Americans becoming addicted to nicotine products.
More than 27.5% of American high school students use e-cigarettes, up from 20.7% in 2018, according to a recent U.S. government study.
Donald Trump’s administration in September said it would unveil a sweeping ban on most e-cigarette and vaping flavors. Concerns about the potential loss of jobs have prompted Trump, a Republican, to revisit the issue.
Baker said states can only do so much to regulate vaping, but “unfortunately it’s becoming increasingly clear the federal government is not going to act decisively”.
The Vapor Technology Association, a vaping industry trade group that unsuccessfully challenged Baker’s earlier vaping sales ban in court, signaled its opposition in a statement issued when the Massachusetts senate passed the legislative ban.
“Bans don’t work; they never have,” Tony Abboud, the group’s executive director, said.
This article originally appeared at The Guardian website