Massachusetts vaping ban rescinded in favor of new restrictions

Massachusetts

BOSTON, Mass. (WPRI) — Vaping products can once again be sold in Massachusetts after the state’s Public Health Council rescinded a temporary ban imposed by Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration back in September.

The ban was supposed to end on Christmas Eve, but Baker decided to end the ban early in light of new legislation restricting the sale of flavored tobacco and vaping products in Massachusetts.

The new restrictions on vaping sales, which go into effect immediately, include the following:

  • The sale of non-flavored nicotine vaping products (with a nicotine content of fewer than 35 milligrams per milliliter) is restricted to stores licensed to sell tobacco products, such as convenience stores, gas stations, and other retail outlets.
  • The sale of non-flavored nicotine vaping products (with a nicotine content over 35 milligrams per milliliter) is restricted to licensed, adult-only retail tobacco stores and smoking bars.
  • The sale and consumption of all flavored nicotine vaping products may only occur within licensed smoking bars.

New regulations on the sale of vaping products, also effective immediately, include the following:

  • Require posting of signage in any location where vaping products are sold to warn customers of the dangers of severe lung disease associated with vaping products and more generally advising them of the health risks of vaping.
  • Specify the commissioner’s authority to prohibit the sale of a designated vaping product on a determination that the product causes an imminent danger to public health.
  • Strengthen state and local enforcement, specifying procedures by which the Department of Public Health or local Boards of Health may inspect retail locations and the products they are selling for compliance with the law, and providing for penalties for violations, ranging from $1,000 for the first violation to $5,000 for three or more violations.
  • Establish how retailers and manufacturers must comply with the law’s requirement that vaping products with a nicotine content of more than 35 mg/ml may only be sold in 21+ establishments.
  • Require vaping products to be placed behind the counter in all non-age restricted retailers.

What and where tobacco products can be sold »

“This has worked out about as well as we could have expected it to,” Baker said. “I’m anxious for people to be able to move forward with a more regulated environment and more public info about risks associated with vaping.”

Restrictions on the sale of flavored, combustible cigarettes and other tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes and flavored chewing tobacco, will go into effect beginning June 1, 2020.

A 75% excise tax on nicotine vaping products will also go into effect in June — which will be in addition to the state’s 6.25% sales tax.

Lou Rebello with Goodfella Vapor in Swansea said that while he’s happy he can reopen his business, he’s frustrated that he can’t sell flavored products.

Rebello said most of his customers who are former smokers only want flavored vaping products.

“They don’t want nothing to do with tobacco anymore,” Rebello said. “It only reminds them of cigarettes — they get a flavor that actually tastes good. We’re not attracting children, adults like flavors.”

Rebello said the new regulations won’t change his bottom line and he has already started telling his regular customers he will have to close up shop.

“I told them, ‘I’ll keep you guys going until Christmas, that’s it,'” Rebello said. “I can’t do it anymore.”

A public hearing on the new regulations will be scheduled within the next 90 days.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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