Guide 2019 Tobacco Control Law

Learn more about the 2019 Tobacco Control Law and restrictions on the sale of nicotine vaping and flavored vaping and tobacco products.

Table of Contents

New tobacco control law

On December 11, 2019, the state’s Public Health Council approved new regulations that restrict the sale of nicotine vaping and flavored vaping and tobacco products. This action follows the Legislature passing and Governor Charlie Baker signing into law An Act Modernizing Tobacco Control, which provided the Massachusetts Department of Public Health with additional authority to regulate access to tobacco and electronic nicotine delivery systems, including vapes. With the actions taken December 11th, the Governor’s temporary statewide ban on the sale of tobacco and vape products in place since September is no longer in effect.

Effective immediately, the new law places the following restrictions:

  1. Retail stores licensed to sell tobacco products, such as convenience stores, gas stations, and other retail outlets, are restricted to the sale of non-flavored nicotine products with a nicotine content of 35 milligrams per milliliter or less.
  2. The sale of non-flavored nicotine vaping products (with a nicotine content over 35 milligrams per milliliter) is restricted to licensed, adult-only retail tobacco stores and smoking bars.
  3. The sale and consumption of all flavored nicotine vaping products may only occur within licensed smoking bars.

On Wednesday February 12, 2020 the Public Health Council (PHC) voted to finalize the promulgation of 105 CMR 665 and those changes will take effect March 6, 2020. In the interim, the emergency regulations will remain in effect.  Local boards of health have enforcement authority for provisions of the regulations summarized  in the BOH Informational Letter: 105 CMR 665

Beginning June 1, 2020, the sale of flavored combustible cigarettes and other tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes and flavored chewing tobacco, will be restricted to licensed smoking bars where they may be sold only for on-site consumption. Also taking effect on June 1st is the addition of a 75 percent excise tax on the wholesale price of nicotine vaping products, in addition to the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax.

To learn more, view the DPH press release: Public Health Council Approves Regulations Restricting Access to Vaping and Tobacco Products.

What's sold where?

Where and what tobacco products can be sold in Massachusetts per 105 CMR 665:
Product Non-Age Restricted Retail Establishments
(such as convenience stores, gas stations, liquor stores)
Adult-Only Tobcco Retail Store
(21+)
Smoking Bars
(21+)
Cigarettes
(Including menthol)
x* x* x
Cigars
(Including flavors, unless city/town has a flavored product restriction in place)
x* x* x
Other tobacco Products, EXCLUDING e-cigarettes
(Including flavors, unless city/town has a flavored product restriction in place)
x* x* x
Unflavored e-cigarettes with nicotine content 35 mg/mL or less x x x
Unflavored e-cigarettes with nicotine content over 35 mg/mL   x x
Flavored e-cigarettes with any strength nicotine content     x

x = can be sold

*Beginning June 1, 2020, flavored cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products may only be purchased in smoking bars

Download this chart as a PDF.

Information for retailers

Guidance for Non-Age-Restricted Retail Establishments

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has promulgated an emergency regulation, 105 CMR 665, to implement certain sections of a new state law: An Act Modernizing Tobacco Control. This regulation took effect on December 11, 2019. As a result, there are important new requirements for retail establishments that sell tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. These requirements differ depending on the type of retail establishment, so please read the statute, the regulation, and this information carefully.

Under this regulation, a non-age-restricted retail establishment is one that holds a Massachusetts Department of Revenue license for the sale of tobacco products, but does not restrict entry to people under the age of 21. These include, but are not limited to, convenience stores, gas stations, liquor stores, bodegas, supermarkets and other similar businesses.

Non-age-restricted retail establishments:

  • Cannot sell any tobacco products, including cigarettes and e-cigarettes to anyone under the minimum legal sales age.
  • Cannot sell any flavored electronic nicotine delivery systems such as flavored e-cigarettes and flavored vaping products.
  • Cannot sell electronic nicotine delivery systems with nicotine content greater than 35 milligrams per milliliter.
  • Cannot advertise tobacco products that they cannot sell, use fraudulent or misleading statements in advertising, or display advertisements with celebrities, cartoons or similar endorsements.
  • Can sell non-flavored electronic nicotine delivery systems with nicotine content 35 milligrams or less per milliliter.
    • Must maintain records obtained by the manufacturer that validate the nicotine content of electronic nicotine delivery systems available for sale on the premises.
      • This documentation may be provided to the retailer by a distributer, but must have originally come from the manufacturer.
  • Must keep all tobacco products, including cigarettes and e-cigarettes, for sale behind the counter where sales are made, out of reach of consumers and not on the counter.
  • Must display all of the following signs in plain view by a person standing at the cash register (establishments must use the signs developed and provided by DPH):
    • The text of Massachusetts General Law Chapter 270, Sections 6 and 6A
    • A statement that the sale of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to someone under the minimum legal sales age is prohibited
    • Notice that the sale of flavored electronic nicotine delivery systems is prohibited
    • A warning about the health impacts of vaping
    • Information on tobacco cessation services

This information is provided to assist individuals in complying with a state regulation related to the operation of a non-age restricted retail tobacco establishments.  This is a summary, only, and not the full text of the regulation.

Guidance for Retail Tobacco Stores

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has promulgated an emergency regulation, 105 CMR 665, to implement certain sections of a new state law: An Act Modernizing Tobacco Control. This regulation took effect on December 11, 2019. As a result, there are important new requirements for retail establishments that sell tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. These requirements differ depending on what kind of retail establishment you work with, so please read the statute, the regulation, and this information carefully.

Under this regulation, Retail Tobacco Stores are retail establishments whose primary purpose is the sale of tobacco products and paraphernalia, and who restrict the entry for people under the age of 21. These include tobacconists, smoke shops, and vape shops.

Additional information regarding the taxation elements of the new law will be forthcoming from the Department of Revenue.

Retail Tobacco Stores:

  • Must have a municipal permit for sale or distribution of tobacco products, unless in operation before December 11, 2019 in a municipality that has not previously required a permit for operation.
  • Cannot sell any tobacco products, including cigarettes and e-cigarettes to anyone under the minimum legal sales age.
  • Cannot sell any flavored electronic nicotine delivery system, such as flavored e-cigarettes and flavored vaping products.
  • Cannot advertise tobacco products that they cannot sell, use fraudulent or misleading statements in advertising, or display advertisements with celebrities, cartoons or similar endorsements.
  • Must display all of the following signs in plain view by a person standing at the cash register (establishments must use the signs developed and provided by DPH):
    • The text of Massachusetts General Law Chapter 270, Sections 6 and 6A
    • A statement that the sale of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to someone under the minimum legal sales age is prohibited
    • Notice that the sale of flavored electronic nicotine delivery systems is prohibited.
    • A warning about the health impacts of vaping
    • Information on tobacco cessation services
  • Must display the following signs on the exterior of the entrance door (establishments must use the signs developed and provided by DPH):
    • A warning that smoking and vaping may be present on the premises
    • Information concerning the health risks of second hand smoke and vaping
    • A statement that no person under the age of 21 is allowed on the premises at any time

This information is provided to assist individuals in complying with a state regulation related to the operation of a retail tobacco store.  This is a summary, only, and not the full text of the regulation.

Download as a PDF: Tobacco Retailer Guidance 105 CMR 665

Signs Required in Massachusetts Tobacco Retail Establishments by 105 CMR 665

New signs are available for download. Signs noted with an asterisk (*) are already required by state law.

Sign

Convenience Stores/Gas Stations with a Retail Tobacco License Adult-Only Tobcco Retail Store
(21+) 
Smoking Bars
(21+)
Minimum Legal Sales Age* x x x
State Law (MGL ch 270, sections 6 and 6A) x x x
Referral Information for Smoking Cessation Resources* x x x
Health Warning for E-Cigarettes x x x
Sale of Flavored E-Cigarettes is Prohibited x x  
Must be 21 + to Enter   x x
Exterior notice of smoking/vaping inside   x** x

x = required

**The finalized regulation 105 CMR 665 requires only those retail tobacco stores that allow on-site consumption post signage warning of possible smoking, vaping, or tobacco product use onsite.

Download this chart as a PDF.

Information for local boards of health

On Wednesday February 12, 2020 the Public Health Council (PHC) voted to finalize the promulgation of 105 CMR 665 and those changes will take effect March 6, 2020. In the interim, the emergency regulations will remain in effect. Local boards of health have enforcement authority for provisions of the regulations. The changes to 105 CMR 665 are summarized  in the BOH Informational Letter: 105 CMR 665.

Information about EVALI

E-cigarette/Vaping-Associated Lung Injury (EVALI)

There is a multistate outbreak of severe lung disease associated with the use of vaping including but not limited to e-cigarettes.  The investigation has not yet identified any specific e-cigarette or vaping product or substance that is linked to all cases.  The only common factor that is linked to all cases is a history of e-cigarette use and vaping.  In Massachusetts, potential and probable cases have been coming into the Public Health State Lab since this lung disease was made a reportable condition on September 11, 2019. These cases continue to be investigated here in Massachusetts and nationally by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

View national information from the CDC: Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with E-Cigarette Use, or Vaping.

Get help quitting

The Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program provides information and resources that can to help as you attempt to quit

There are medicines which can improve your chances of quitting. MassHealth covers these FDA-approved medicines, and many other plans offer them for free or at low cost with a prescription.

If you have a child under the age of 18 who might need help quitting, talk to their pediatrician about whether a prescription for one of these quit-smoking medicines is right for them.

Combining medication with coaching support can triple your chances of success. So call the Massachusetts Smokers’ Helpline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW for free advice and support. It’s confidential and is available in multiple languages.

Visit MassHealth Coverage Updates to view important changes to MassHealth member co-pays for products and medications that help people quit smoking and vaping.

 

Information on Quit Resources for Providers and Pharmacists

Providers and pharmacists can play a vital role in delivering important information on vaping and smoking cessation.

Memo for Providers: Letter to Providers - Vaping and Smoking Cessation Resources

Memo for Pharmacists: Update to the dispensing of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products.

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