Mass. lawmakers target vape products that attract teens

BOSTON — Lawmakers in Massachusetts are taking direct aim at vaping with a bill that would ban flavored vaping products.

Boston 25's Kerry Kavanaugh recently sat with the two lawmakers behind the ban who say it's the flavors that are hooking kids.

Rep. Danielle Gregoire (D-Marlborough): "The bill that I filed is House 1902 and Senator Keenan’s companion bill would ban all electronic cigarette flavors as well as all traditional combustible cigarette flavors, including mint and menthol."

Kerry Kavanaugh: “Why the focus on the flavors?

Sen. John Keenan (D-Quincy): "The flavors are what’s attracting kids. They’re being targeted with the flavors and they’re fighting back. And they’re fighting back and we have an obligation to fight back with them. And if we can stop the flavors we think we can stop this industry assault pretty quickly."

KK: "Targeting how?"

JK: “They’re targeting with the advertising and targeting with the flavors. There’s over 8,000 flavors and some of the kids are just naturally attracted to banana-strawberry and watermelon and cotton candy.”

DG: “In the last five years, for the first time ever, we have seen a trend back up of more nicotine use. Before that, Massachusetts had done an unbelievable job of curbing youth nicotine use through the combustible cigarette. With these products back on the market, we’ve seen over the last year and then the year before that, 80% increase of nicotine use among high school students across Massachusetts.”

KK: "There was some push back when you guys had pitched this legislation among small business owners who say they are being unfairly targeted and you should go after online retailers. Are they accurate?

JK: “This legislation would ban it whether it’s sold online or retail. No matter how it was sold it would be banned across the board.”

KK: “Was it young people that brought this to your radars?”

JK: “Yes. Young people were being targeted and they knew it. And in my case there was a group of students in Holbrook public schools who were very active in their community and they brought it to my attention and asked for assistance.”

DG: “Senator Keenan and I are both pushing this as a priority and we’re hoping to get something done sooner rather than later and by soon. I think before the holidays is our goal.”

The legislation is in the public health committee discussion phase.