Massachusetts Lifts Total Ban On Vaping, Enacts Flavor Ban Instead
Temporary Ban On All Vapor Products Set To Be Lifted Following Strict New Regulations
While a federal ban on the sale of flavored vapor products appears to have been shelved for the time being, several states have enacted or are enacting flavor bans of their own. Michigan and New York have both enacted flavor bans, which are being actively challenged in the judicial system for their questionable constitutionality and potential major negative ramifications on the economy.
Massachusetts had up until recently been an outlier in banning vaping, opting to completely prohibit the sale of all vapor products as opposed to restricting the sale of specific flavors. The state’s total ban was enacted under emergency order and was set to last three months, but lawmakers have instead opted to lift the statewide prohibition on vaping following the passage of a bill outlawing the sale of flavored vapor products, as well as mint and menthol cigarettes.
Vaping advocates note the potential public health impacts of restricting adult smoker’s access to flavored vapor products that may help them quit, as well as possible economic ramifications, as flavored vapor products often make up a majority of retail vape sales. Anti-vaping activists have commended the move by Massachusetts lawmakers for helping to curb teenage vaping use by restricting the sale of flavored offerings.
Massachusetts has enacted the toughest statewide ban against vaping in the United States, which may very well serve as a death knell to an industry struggling to stay afloat following the emergency ban a few months prior. We may not understand the full scope and impact these bans have on not only the economy but public health as well.
Toughest Statewide Ban
In early September, Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts signed an emergency order temporarily banning the sale of all vapor products, regardless of flavor. While set to end at the end of the month, the Baker administration has announced the ban may be lifted as early as December 11th, two weeks ahead of schedule.
In late November, Massachusetts enacted the country’s strictest statewide ban on not only the sale of flavored vapor products but mint and menthol cigarettes as well. In addition, this bill not only places a limit on the nicotine content of vapor products but places an outrageous 75% excise tax on wholesale pricing for e-cigarettes.
The law allows a specific exemption for the consumption of flavored nicotine products in private smoking bars such as hookah lounges and cigar bars. This law does not impact cannabis vaping products, which are regulated under the Cannabis Control Commission rather than the Department of Public Health.
Health officials have defended the ban as essential to protecting public health and preventing youths from vaping. Vaping industry organizations believe this ban will be detrimental to public health by driving users to unregulated markets and restricting adult smoker’s access to a proven smoking cessation device.
Truth About Vaping
Despite this legislation regulating vapor and tobacco products in a similar manner, research shows they are actually quite different, with vaping posing significantly reduced harm as opposed to cigarettes. A study published in the Journal of Aerosol Sciences found that those who vape have a staggering 57,000 times lower risk of developing cancer compared to those who smoke.
This piece of research joins a more famous one from Public Health England. Researchers for the UK’s top public health agency found that vaping was 95% safer than smoking, a figure the agency routinely stands behind.
Furthermore, there is zero evidence of harm or risk for long-term users of vapor products. Research from the National Academy of Sciences not only found that e-cigarettes pose a reduced risk of harm compared to cigarettes, but that there were no long-term health effects associated with long-term vaping.
Not only is vaping significantly less harmful than smoking, but vaping may be the most effective way to quit smoking that we currently have. A study from the University of Louisville found vaping to be the most effective smoking cessation device available, even more than prescription options such as Chantix.
Vaping as a whole has faced a turbulent couple of months amid various forms of prohibition and other regulatory crackdowns throughout the United States and world. While there have been some notable developments that offer hope to vapers, such as the lifting of a prospective federal ban on flavored vapor products, the future remains uncertain for many in the vaping community.
Massachusetts move from complete prohibition to selective prohibition may not sound like the greatest of victories, but it does signal a move by lawmakers that they are at least willing to cooperate with the industry. The new regulations, while overly restrictive, do offer an avenue for mom-and-pop vape shops to continue navigating and giving them room to figure out the new regulatory landscape.
While there have been signs of positive momentum for the industry, there is much work to be done by the community to help secure the future of vaping. Members must remain committed to polite and informative civil discourse as well as sustained civic engagement to help continue shifting momentum in a more positive direction.
Are you excited that Massachusetts is lifting its complete prohibition on vaping? How do you feel about Massachusetts’ new restrictive but more selective ban on flavored vapor products instead? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive all the latest vaping news!
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