September 15 2015

Mass Attorney General Approves Rules Prohibiting Minors from Purchasing E-Cigarettes

By: Rich Hosford

In a little over a week’s time minors will no longer be able to purchase electronic smoking devices, commonly known as e-cigarettes. 


Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced on Monday she had published the final set of regulations that would prevent the sale of the products to anyone under 18 years of age. 


“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.”


According to a release from Healey’s office, the new regulations include establishing the minimum age of 18 for electronic smoking devices, prohibit sampling and promotional giveaways and other free distributions and prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes in any manner other than a face-to-face exchange (with some exceptions for vending machines in locations only open to people 18-years or older. Retailers must also take measures to prevent sales to minors . 


These rules go in effect on Friday, September 25. 


A final regulation that goes into effect on March 15, 2016 states that nicotine liquid or gel be sold in appropriate child resistant packaging that meets federal standards. 


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 release states. 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, 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.

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