HCN News & Notes

State Lifts Ban on Vape Sales While Introducing New Restrictions

BOSTON — Massachusetts health officials lifted the state’s temporary ban on the sale of vaping products on Wednesday, while also imposing a series of new regulations restricting the sale of nicotine vaping and flavored vaping and tobacco products.

This action follows the Legislature’s passing and Gov. Charlie Baker’s signing into law “An Act Modernizing Tobacco Control,” which provided the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) with additional authority to regulate access to tobacco and electronic nicotine-delivery systems, including vapes.

While the governor’s statewide ban on the sale of vaping products, in place since September, is no longer in effect, the new law places the following restrictions:

• Retail stores licensed to sell tobacco products, such as convenience stores, gas stations, and other retail outlets, are restricted to the sale of non-flavored nicotine products with a nicotine content of 35 milligrams per milliliter or less;

• The sale of non-flavored nicotine vaping products (with a nicotine content over 35 milligrams per milliliter) is restricted to licensed, adult-only retail tobacco stores and smoking bars; and

• The sale and consumption of all flavored nicotine vaping products may occur only within licensed smoking bars.

“Massachusetts has taken important steps to protect its residents from the emerging public-health risk posed by vaping products, and with the new law signed by Gov. Baker and the introduction of today’s regulations, we continue to prioritize actions that protect the public health,” said Public Health Commissioner Dr. Monica Bharel. “I continue to recommend that people not use any e-cigarette or vaping products, as these products are not safe. The new law expands the availability of smoking-cessation resources through insurance, and DPH continues to remind people that help is available through a variety of tools.”

Beginning June 1, 2020, the sale of flavored combustible cigarettes and other tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes and flavored chewing tobacco, will be restricted to licensed smoking bars, where they may be sold only for on-site consumption. Also taking effect on June 1 is the addition of a 75% excise tax on the wholesale price of nicotine vaping products, in addition to the state’s 6.25% sales tax.

The new regulations lay out a roadmap for the implementation of the new law, including enforcement authority, penalties for non-compliance, legal signage, and advertising requirements.