By the Office of the Attorney General
Implementing an important step to protect Massachusetts residents from the harms caused by tobacco and nicotine products, Attorney General Maura Healey today published the final set of regulations to prevent the sale of electronic smoking devices (e-cigarettes) to children.
“The growth of the e-cigarette market has posed a serious public health risk to Massachusetts residents and calls for strict oversight to protect our young people,” AG Healey said. “Now that these regulations are in place, businesses will be required to keep these addictive products out of the hands of minors, an important step to further reduce youth smoking.”
The regulations, filed Friday with the Secretary of State’s office, make changes to existing tobacco regulations. Businesses in Massachusetts will also be provided information on the new regulations in order to stay in compliance and know what steps to take when selling the products. The new regulations include:
establishing a minimum sales age of at least 18 for electronic smoking devices (the minimum sales age may be higher in cities or towns that have established a higher minimum age of sale by ordinance or bylaw);
- prohibiting sampling, promotional giveaways and other free distributions;
- prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes in any manner other than face-to-face exchanges (with exceptions for vending machines in establishments open to persons under 18);
- requiring that e-cigarettes be out of the reach of all consumers and in a location only accessible to store employees;
- requiring all e-cigarette retailers to take measures to prevent sales to minors; and
- requiring that nicotine liquid or gel be sold in appropriate child resistant packaging that meets federal standards (e-cigarettes rely on liquids and gels to deliver nicotine to the user).
The regulations, except for the child resistant packaging requirement, are effective Sept. 25, 2015. The packaging requirement is effective March 15, 2016.
Aside from the significant and well-documented concerns around the health effects of nicotine, little is known about the health effects of e-cigarette vapor. The child-resistant packaging requirement is intended to address concerns that children may ingest the liquid or gel inside e-cigarettes, which contain a high concentration of nicotine. Children are particularly at risk, attracted to the bright colors and child-friendly flavors that liquid and gel nicotine are sold in, such as bubble gum, French toast, and gummi bear. Additionally, much of the e-cigarette marketing today mirrors that of Big Tobacco from the 1990s, which was found to target youth including the use of use of cartoons and characters, and sponsorship of music and sporting events in addition to child-friendly flavors.
In March, AG Healey announced the proposed regulations in the State House along with Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez (D – Jamaica Plain), Senator Harriette Chandler (D – Worcester), and the Executive Director of Tobacco Free Massachusetts Tami Gouveia.
“These regulations are an important first step in limiting the use of e-cigarettes. I commend the Attorney General on taking this necessary action,” said Representative Jeffrey Sanchez, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “Now, as we look ahead, we need to think more broadly about how we will regulate all tobacco products in the future.”
“The regulation of e-cigarettes remains a public health priority in the Commonwealth and I look forward to the finalization of the regulations that were initially proposed in March,” said Senate Majority Leader Harriette L. Chandler. “I thank Attorney General Healey and other leaders for their continued commitment towards the regulation of e-cigarettes, and anticipate the changes from these regulations.”
“We laud Attorney General Healey for taking action to protect young people from tobacco industry tactics and these new and addictive products,” said Tami Gouveia, Executive Director of Tobacco Free Mass. “We look forward to working with policymakers to further prevent youth use of electronic cigarettes and the renormalization of smoking in the Commonwealth.”
“We applaud Attorney General Healey’s adoption of these common sense regulations which provide consistent, state-wide rules and protections for both sellers and consumers.” said Jon B. Hurst, President of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts.
The regulations were filed with the Secretary of State’s office on March 13, and were informed by members of the public who submitted comments to the AG’s Office. A public hearing was held on April 23 to discuss the regulations.
The final regulations are now available on the Office’s website.