For Immediate Release - March 17, 2015

AG Healey Joined by Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez and Sen. Harriette Chandler to Announce Proposed Regulations to Limit Sale of E-Cigarettes

Regulations Will Prohibit Sales to Minors and Require Child-Resistant Packaging for E-liquids and Gels

BOSTON — Calling the unregulated sale of electronic cigarettes a threat to the health of Massachusetts residents, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today a proposed set of regulations to prevent the sale of e-cigarettes to children.

“Over the last two decades, we have made tremendous strides in reducing youth smoking, but we’re fighting the war against youth smoking on a new front today,” said AG Healey. “These regulations make clear that in Massachusetts an e-cigarette is a cigarette, when it comes to protecting our kids.”

Joining AG Healey to announce the proposed regulations in the State House were Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez (D – Jamaica Plain), Senator Harriette Chandler (D – Worcester), and the Executive Director of Tobacco Free Massachusetts Tami Gouveia.

“I applaud the Attorney General on this much-needed first step in defining the limits of e-cigarettes, especially while important research is still being conducted to determine the safety of these devices,” said Representative Jeffrey Sanchez, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “At the same time, we need to be forward thinking and consider how we plan to regulate all future tobacco products.”

“More teenagers now smoke e-cigarettes over traditional cigarettes,” said Senate Majority Leader Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester).  “It is important for the Commonwealth to recognize that e-cigarettes are a public health threat and respond to their unregulated sale to keep our minors tobacco free.”

“We laud Attorney General Healey for taking action to protect youth from tobacco industry tactics and these new and equally addictive products,” said Tami Gouveia, Executive Director of Tobacco Free Mass. “We look forward to working with the Attorney General, the administration, and the legislature to prevent youth use of electronic smoking devices and the renormalization of smoking.”

“Small retailers across the state congratulate Attorney General Healey for crafting a common sense, statewide regulation, which treats legal products, sellers and consumers consistently across the Commonwealth,” said Jon B. Hurst, President of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts. 

The proposed regulations make changes to existing tobacco regulations. They include:

  • prohibiting the sale of any e-cigarette to minors under the age of 18;
  • prohibiting sampling, promotional giveaways and other free distributions;
  • prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes in any manner other than face-to-face exchanges (not in 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; and
  • requiring all e-cigarette retailers to take measures to prevent sales to minors.

The regulations will also define as “an unfair and deceptive act” the sale of nicotine liquid or gel without appropriate child resistant packaging that meets federal standards. E-cigarettes rely on liquids and gels to deliver nicotine to the user.

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 tamperproof packaging requirement is intended to address concerns that children may ingest the liquid or gel inside e-cigarettes, which contain a the 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.

The regulations were filed with the Secretary of State’s office on March 13. Members of the public can submit comments to the Attorney General’s office until April 24 by emailing AGOregulations@state.ma.us. A public hearing to discuss the regulations will be held on April 23. The AG’s Office expects to file final regulations with the Secretary of State in the spring.

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