Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday signed sweeping legislation to restrict the sale of flavored tobacco and vaping products, making his state the first to enact such stringent controls.
The new law, which is set to take effect on June 1, 2020, is not a blanket ban. Instead it limits the sale of flavored nicotine vaping products, including menthol, “to licensed smoking bars where they may only be smoked on-site.” The same restrictions apply to all other flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes and flavored chewing tobacco.
Baker did not offer details on how the state intends to enforce the law.
The legislation, titled An Act Modernizing Tobacco Control, also imposes a 75% excise tax on e-cigarettes — meant to reduce their appeal to young people by making the products too expensive for minors.
“It’s pretty clear there isn’t going to be a federal policy on this anytime soon,” Baker said at the signing. “So in the absence of that, we had to act.”
Baker declared a public health emergency in September and issued a four-month ban on all vaing products, following mysterious lung illnesses and deaths nationwide that were linked to vaping. The temporary blanket ban was set to expire in late January but on Wednesday the governor said it will 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,” Baker said in a statement.