Massachusetts ban on sale of flavored tobacco to take effect
BOSTON (AP) — A statewide ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, is set to take effect on Monday.
Massachusetts became the first state to approve such a ban when Republican Gov. Charlie Baker signed the bill in November.
The law applies to the sale of all flavored tobacco products in Massachusetts retail stores and online.
The new law specifically restricts the sale of the products to licensed smoking bars such as cigar bars and hookah lounges, where they’ll only be allowed to be consumed on-site. The restriction extends to menthol cigarettes and flavored e-cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco and chewing tobacco.
Anti-smoking groups hailed the ban, arguing that flavored tobacco products attract young people. They said menthol cigarettes are no different.
Convenience stores are among those who oppose the law.
Massachusetts’ decision to extend the ban to menthol flavors has been contentious in part because studies have shown menthol cigarettes are consumed disproportionately by minorities, which some activists have warned could lead to disproportionate police enforcement in the black community.
The law also places a 75% excise tax on nicotine vaping products, gives public health officials new authority to regulate the products and requires health insurers to cover tobacco cessation counseling.