Mass. governor signs groundbreaking vaping flavor ban into law

Mass. governor signs groundbreaking vaping flavor ban into law
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Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) on Wednesday signed into law the country’s most stringent ban on flavored vaping products, as well as menthol cigarettes.

The new law immediately restricts the sale of all flavored nicotine vaping products and will ban menthol cigarettes starting June 1. 

Under the law, flavored vaping products will only be sold in licensed smoking bars, and they must be consumed onsite. It will also impose a steep 75 percent excise tax on e-cigarettes and require health insurers to cover tobacco cessation programs.

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In September, Baker declared a public health emergency and ordered a temporary ban on the sale of all vaping products. During a press conference Wednesday, Baker said the ban will be lifted on Dec. 11, earlier than the expected date of Dec. 24.

The emergency ban also effected marijuana products. Massachusetts legalized marijuana last year, but the state’s Cannabis Control Commission banned the sale of all THC vaporizers, with the exception of medical use devices designed to exclusively vaporize the marijuana flower.

The emergency ban will remain in place while the state’s Department of Public Health drafts new regulations, Baker said.

“When enacted, these permanent regulations will ensure the risks are known to consumers ... and will ensure sellers are not skirting the new law and selling to kids,” Baker said. 

“While this new law we sign today is a major step forward in regulating vaping products, the health risks associated with vaping are still real and still being investigated by the CDC,” he added.

Baker and public health advocates have touted the legislation as a way to stop the epidemic of teen vaping, as well as a response to a vaping-related illness that has sickened thousands of people across the country. 

While other states have implemented emergency bans, Massachusetts is the first state to enact a permanent one. 

Advocates have been pushing for a federal ban on e-cigarette flavors, but the future of any federal regulation is uncertain after President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats worried by Jeremy Corbyn's UK rise amid anti-Semitism Warren, Buttigieg duke it out in sprint to 2020 MORE seemingly balked at implementing a ban on flavors he promised more than two months ago