On Nov. 20, the Massachusetts State Senate approved SB 2407, An Act to Modernize Tobacco Control, which will prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products―including e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes and chewing tobacco. The bill was passed by the House of Representatives on Nov. 13 (127-31) and is expected to be signed by Gov. Charlie Baker, making Massachusetts the first state in the nation to pass a law to remove all flavored tobacco including e-cigarette products from the shelves.
“The American Lung Association is proud to congratulate the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on its bold leadership in modernizing its approach to tobacco control. By ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products including e-cigarettes, Massachusetts is protecting its youth from a lifetime of nicotine addiction and tobacco related illnesses,” said American Lung Association National President and CEO Harold Wimmer. “The legislative package that now awaits Governor Baker’s signature stands to raise the bar for tobacco control across the country. Absent strong action from the federal government, we urge states and localities to follow Massachusetts’ lead.”
Flavored tobacco has been used to attract children and teens to tobacco for decades. Most recently, the CDC reported that 27.5 percent of kids are using e-cigarettes and that many initiated with flavored products. Fruit and mint and menthol are the most popular flavors among high school students using e-cigarettes, with 66.1 percent of kids using fruit-flavored e-cigarettes and 57.3 percent using mint or menthol e-cigarette flavors.
In addition to ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco, the bill also delivers on a number of issues prioritized by public health advocates:
- Adds an excise tax of 75 percent of wholesale price on e-cigarettes and e-cigarette devices, bringing parity with combustible cigarettes in the state.
- Allocates 30 percent of the revenue from the vape tax to the Community Behavioral Health Promotion and Prevention Trust Fund for public health programs.
- Requires private insurers, the Group Insurance Commission, and MassHealth to provide coverage for tobacco use cessation counseling and all generic Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved tobacco cessation products with at least one product available with no out of pocket costs.
- Increases fines for retailers who sell tobacco to youth and also for retailers who sell un-taxed tobacco products.