Towns Lead, State Follows: No More E-Cigarette Sales to Teens in Massachusetts
New Attorney General regulations in effect as of September 25, 2015 will help reverse the “renormalization of smoking,” according to the Executive Director of Tobacco Free Massachusetts, who announced the regulations along with AG Maura Healey.
Generally, the regulations fill in gaps in existing smoking bans that many Massachusetts municipal boards of health have already identified and begun to address.
The regulations set the minimum selling age at 18 for e-cigarettes, prohibit free samples of tobacco products, mandate selling of tobacco products and e-cigarettes via a face-to-face exchange, and require that stores keep e-cigarettes in a location accessible only to store employees.
Many municipalities had already made these changes to their own local bylaws and regulations, a fact the AG’s regulations recognize by allowing municipalities to continue to impose more stringent regulations. For instance, local regulations raising the age to buy tobacco products and e-cigarettes to 21 remain effective. In fact, three more Western Mass towns are currently considering regulations to do just that.
The AG’s action follows increasing concern about the role e-cigarettes may play in exposing teens to tobacco use. Acknowledging that “little is known about the health effects of e-cigarette vapor,” the AG’s office press release nonetheless noted that “much of e-cigarette marketing today mirrors that of Big Tobacco from the 1990s,” which targeted youth with cartoons and child-friendly flavors, such as bubble gum, French toast and gummi bear, according to the press release.
A year-long Journal of the American Medicine Association study lends credence to the notion that e-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking for teenagers.
The US Food and Drug Administration proposed its own similar regulation to the AG’s in 2014, but it has not yet gone into effect.
Photo Credit: Mike Mozart
Posted In: Progressive Policies