Massachusetts likely to become the first state to ban flavored tobacco

Massachusetts likely to become first state to ban flavored tobacco

BOSTON — On Wednesday night, lawmakers in Beacon Hill voted to ban the sale of flavored tobacco in Massachusetts, the first state to do so.

The tobacco ban, which passed 32-6, would not only ban the sale of flavored tobacco but it would also impose a 75% excise tax on electronic cigarettes.

The ban applies to cigarettes, chewing tobacco, cigars and vaping products.

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After being approved by the House and the Senate, the bill will now make its way to the governor's desk where it could be signed into law.

Convenience store owners were outraged at the proposition, saying it would cause a significant blow to their business.

Under the proposal, commercial health insurers and MassHealth would be required to cover tobacco cessation counseling and all nicotine replacement therapies. Generic versions would be offered without cost-sharing to the consumer.

Supporters of the bill say their goal is to protect young people from the harmful effects of tobacco.

The ban on the sale of flavored vaping products could go into effect as soon as the bill is signed. The ban on menthol cigarettes would not go into effect until June 1, 2020.

While the American Medical Association has called for a nationwide immediate ban on all electronic cigarettes and vaping devices, studies show vaping is still healthier than smoking cigarettes.

According to the study, chemicals in cigarette smoke narrow arteries as they get mixed in with fatty deposits and can increase the risk of a life-threatening blockage.

That being said, researchers stressed that more research is needed, and the study does not conclude that vaping is safe.