A Massachusetts city is becoming the first one to restrict the sale of vaping products and menthol cigarettes.
The Somerville Board of Health recently voted to restrict the sale of e-cigarettes and menthol cigarettes citing health concerns on young users.
Starting April 1, 2019, menthol and e-cigarette sales will be restricted to only those 21 and older and adult-only tobacco retail stores.The new regulations come after the increasing popularity of e-cigarettes has grown, increasing concerns about teen use of the products nationally and locally.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control claims e-cigarettes can harm the developing adolescent brain and further research indicates that young people who use e-cigarettes are more likely to continue using tobacco products over time. The national 2018 Youth Tobacco Survey revealed teen e-cigarette use is on the rise nationally with the number of young e-cigarette users climbing from 2.1 million in 2017 to 3.6 million in 2018.
Because of the risks connected to e-cigarette use among teens, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently passed new guidelines designed to prevent youth access to e-cigarettes and claimed it would seek a ban on menthol in all tobacco products.
The Somerville Health and Human Services Department, along with other specialists, are behind the efforts to introduce menthol and e-cigarette restrictions. Community members testified at a public hearing in support of the changes and against them as well. Local retailers also testified, expressing their concerns about the possible financial impact on their businesses due to the restriction guidelines.
"As the Board of Health, we work very hard to balance public health and business concerns," said Board of Health member, Robert Ciccia. "With that, our ultimate responsibility is to protect the health of Somerville residents, particularly youth."