American Lung Association Applauds Landmark Legislation
Massachusetts the First State to Permanently End the Sale of All Flavored Tobacco Products
(November 20, 2019) - Boston, MA
The Massachusetts State Senate today approved SB 2407, An Act to Modernize Tobacco Control, (32-6) which will prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products―including e-cigarettes, men-thol cigarettes and chewing tobacco. The bill was passed by the House of Representatives on November 13th (127-31) and is expected to be signed by Governor Baker imminently ― making Massachusetts the first state in the nation to pass a law to remove all flavored tobacco including e-cigarette products from the shelves.
"The American Lung Association is proud to congratulate the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on its bold leadership in modernizing its approach to tobacco control. By ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products including e-cigarettes, Massachusetts is protecting its youth from a lifetime of nicotine addiction and tobacco related illnesses,” said American Lung Association National President and CEO Harold Wimmer. “The legislative package that now awaits Governor Baker’s signature stands to raise the bar for tobacco control across the country. Absent strong action from the federal government, we urge states and localities to follow Massachusetts’ lead. Clearing the market of all flavored tobacco products is critical to addressing the youth e-cigarette epidemic, just as increasing funding of tobacco cessation and prevention programs, and increas-ing taxes for vape products are proven effective tools in reducing tobacco use for all ages. This bill is a major win for the residents of Massachusetts and stands to positively impact statewide tobacco use rates, tobacco related death and disease, and tobacco related health costs.”
Flavored tobacco has been used to attract children and teens to tobacco for decades. Most re-cently, the CDC reported that 27.5% of kids are using e-cigarettes and that many initiated with flavored products. Fruit and mint and menthol are the most popular flavors among high school students using e-cigarettes, with 66.1% of kids using fruit-flavored e-cigarettes and 57.3% using mint or menthol e-cigarette flavors.
In addition to ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, menthol cig-arettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco, the bill also delivers on a number of issues prioritized by public health advocates such as:
Adds an excise tax of 75% of wholesale price on e-cigarettes and e-cigarette devices, bringing parity with combustible cigarettes in the state.
Allocates 30% of the revenue from the vape tax to the Community Behavioral Health Promotion and Prevention Trust Fund for public health programs.
Requires private insurers, the Group Insurance Commission, and MassHealth to provide coverage for tobacco use cessation counseling and all generic Food and Drug Admin-istration (FDA) approved tobacco cessation products with at least one product available with no out of pocket costs.
Increases fines for retailers who sell tobacco to youth and also for retailers who sell un-taxed tobacco products
This legislation also stands to reduce the number of e-cigarette users amidst the mounting num-ber of cases of lung injury from e-cigarettes. This bill is a vital example of state leadership in the absence of strong federal action, especially by the FDA. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local departments of health continue to investigate, the American Lung Association applauds Massachusetts for putting the health and lives of is residents first in the face of a vaping-related public health emergency.
The removal of flavored e-cigarettes and insurance coverage for cessation counseling and products will go in effect immediately upon receiving the Governor’s signature. All other flavored tobacco products will be removed from the shelves by June 1, 2020.
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About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org