Massachusetts is first state to ban flavored tobacco, vaping products
SEEKONK, Mass. (WLNE) - Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has signed into law a first-in-the-nation ban on the sale of flavored tobacco and vaping products, which includes menthol cigarettes.
But some small businesses say it will take a toll on them.
"It's gonna be a super big hit," said Rosie Fournier of Stateline Smoke Shop in Seekonk. "At least 45-50% of the business. I mean, I don't know what they expect us to do now, I really don't."
In September, the governor had declared a public health emergency and ordered a temporary ban on the sale of all vaping products, flavored and unflavored.
The legislation responds to growing concern about the health effects of vaping products, including deaths.
It immediately bans the sale of flavored vaping products and will outlaw sales of menthol cigarettes starting June 1, 2020.
"Just when you think, 'Maybe I'll be all right,' they decide to take something else down," Fournier said.
Some customers are not happy about it, either.
"What is it, Prohibition again?" said Monica Hermanowski of East Providence.
"You're hurting many people," said Debbie Zitano of Warwick. "And it's really none of your business what I smoke."
But Governor Baker says it's a deadly public health crisis that cannot be ignored.
"It's likely that people will continue to get sick," said Baker, a Republican. "And that's why we will continue to track these illnesses, and do what we can with DPH's regulatory authority."
That includes coming up with new regulations for *non–flavored* products when the existing ban on vaping products is lifted December 11.
The governor says the new ban targets flavored products because of their appeal to young people.
"The bill will keep kids and teenagers from getting their hands on vaping products, especially flavored products that encourage young people to start using," he said.
Back at the smoke shop, there are doubts the ban will work.
"They don't sell to children, so how the kids are getting it is a whole other issue," said Monica Hermanowski of East Providence.
And there are concerns for the future.
"Try to bring in something else they'll allow us to sell," Fournier said, "before they ban that too."