The Mass. House of Representatives has passed legislation to ban all flavored tobacco products and tax vaping products in an effort to protect youth from the harmful effects of tobacco usage.
Known as An Act Modernizing Tobacco Control, the legislation also requires commercial health insurers and MassHealth to cover tobacco cessation counseling and all nicotine replacement therapies with generics offered without any cost-sharing to the consumer. The flavor ban includes a ban on menthol cigarettes and restricts higher nicotine level products to age 21 plus tobacco shops and smoking bars.
“In keeping with our focus on youth wellness this session, the House took a nation-leading step today to modernize our laws that regulate tobacco,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, (D – Winthrop). “By prohibiting the sale of all flavored products, we are making tobacco less enticing for young people, while also making it easier for people to access the tools they need to quit tobacco use.”
In Massachusetts, 9,300 adults die annually from smoking, and more than 20 percent of high school students report having used vaping products. More than 80 percent of teens who have used a tobacco product started with a flavored product such as mint or menthol. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has reported three vaping-related deaths to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Massachusetts, smoking is estimated to cost more than $4 billion in direct healthcare costs.
The bill will now go to the Senate.