On Wednesday, Republican Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill seeking to diminish the popularity of tobacco products among young people into law amid an increase in illnesses and deaths allegedly caused by vaping.
The governor said he expects that other states will pass similar bills and added that the federal Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration should address the issue nationwide.
“Sometimes someone has to go first”, he said. “It’s pretty clear there isn’t going to be a federal policy on this anytime soon. So, in the absence of that, we had to act.”
According to the ban, the purchase and consumption of flavored vaping products is set to be restricted immediately, with the ban on menthol cigarettes beginning 1 July 2020.
The law also imposes a 75% excise tax on nicotine vaping products, empowers public health officials on regulating the products and demands that health insurers cover tobacco cessation counseling.
“The Massachusetts law is a major milestone in the fight to reverse the worsening e-cigarette epidemic and stop tobacco companies from targeting and addicting kids with flavored products”, Matthew Myers, president of anti-smoking organization the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said while expressing his support for the ban.
"Public health and safety has been dealt a blow by anti-tobacco crusaders exploiting a youth vaping crisis, and by lawmakers bypassing prudent policy-making”, a pro-smoking group, the New England Convenience Store and Energy Marketers Association, in its turn, said in a statement.
On Tuesday, the New York City Council voted to adopt a ban on flavored electronic cigarettes, the Associated Press reported. According to the bill, the purchase of flavored electronic cigarettes and flavored e-liquids in New York City, including mint, menthol, and wintergreen would be prohibited.
Last week, President Donald Trump proposed raising the minimum age for the sale of e-cigarette products to 21 due to the rise in vaping-related deaths and illnesses. Trump defended his decision to propose an age limit on vaping products rather than an outright ban by saying e-cigarettes would become illegally available if he outlawed them.
As of October, the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had reported 34 deaths and 1,604 cases of lung injuries related to vaping.