Massachusetts Cities Look to Ban Flavored Tobacco

Products such as flavored cigars and vaporizer juices with nicotine would be banned from convenience store shelves.

March 08, 2016

LEOMINSTER, Mass. – In Massachusetts, the Leominster and Fitchburg boards of health are seeking to relegate the sale of flavored tobacco to tobacco outlets, reports the Sentinel and Enterprise News, and prohibit convenience stores and gas stations from selling any type of flavored tobacco product, including vapor juices with nicotine.

The two cities are proposing to ban "anything that is sort of geared toward children," according to Fitchburg Health Department Director Stephen Curry.

"If you go into a store and look around, you'll see there are bubble-gum-flavored tobacco products, there are strawberry, all kinds of sweet-smelling and sounding things that would appeal more to a child than [an] adult," Leominster Health Department Director Christopher Knuth told the news source. "You're not going to see some old geezer buying something bubble-gum flavor[ed]."

The bans would limit the sale of flavored tobacco products, including flavored cigars and vaporizer juices with nicotine, to retailers designated as tobacco retail outlets, where children are prevented from entering.

"It would prevent sales at places like convenience stores, gas stations, mini-marts, really anywhere else that sells flavored tobacco," Joan Hamlett, Leominster and Fitchburg's Tobacco Control Alliance Director, told the news source, estimating that nearly 50 stores in Fitchburg and 50 in Leominster would be affected by the ban.

Just three retailers in both cities would be allowed to sell the flavored products. “Now we're looking at monitoring flavor in two stores (in Fitchburg) instead of 50,” Hamlett continued. “We're pretty much eliminating youth access to flavored products but still allowing adults to buy them.”

Last week at a Fitchburg Board of Health, Hamlett revealed a draft of new tobacco regulations, including the flavored-product ban, which would affect any non-mint or menthol flavored cigars, cigarillos, smokeless tobacco, hookah tobacco and nicotine liquid used in electronic cigarettes, notes the news source.

Both Fitchburg and Leominster tightened tobacco-product regulations in 2014 by only allowing cigar wraps to be sold at tobacco retailers.