Massachusetts bans sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes

A new law banning the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, went into effect in Massachusetts Monday, making it the first state in the nation to implement such a ban.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and 39 other groups in an ad placed in the Boston Globe recognizing the law for the effect it will have on African Americans and kids.

“By fully implementing its law today, Massachusetts is taking a historic step toward ending the tobacco industry’s long and deadly history of targeting kids, African Americans, and other groups with menthol cigarettes and other flavored products. This law will protect the health of children, address tobacco-related health disparities, help more smokers quit and save lives for generations to come. It comes at a critical time as health experts warn that smoking and vaping can worsen the effects of COVID-19,” said Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Passed in November, the law immediately ended the sale of all flavored e-cigarettes. The portion of the law that banned the sale of all flavored tobacco products went into effect on June 1. Three other states have banned the sale of flavored e-cigarettes – New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island.

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said the move would have a significant impact on the future health of African Americans, kids, and other groups.

“For decades, the tobacco industry has targeted kids, African Americans, and other groups with marketing for menthol cigarettes, with devastating consequences. Today, more than half of all youth smokers – including seven out of ten African-American youth smokers – and 85% of all African-American smokers smoke menthols,” Myers said. “Menthol cools and numbs the throat and masks the harshness of tobacco smoke, making it easier for kids to start smoking and harder for smokers to quit. As a result, African Americans quit smoking at lower rates and suffer high rates of tobacco-related diseases, including lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, emphysema, and diabetes… Ending the sale of menthol cigarettes will reduce the number of young people who start smoking, help more smokers quit – especially African Americans – and reduce tobacco-related health disparities.”

The law only prohibits the sale of flavored tobacco products. It does not make possession of flavored tobacco products illegal.

Liz Carey

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