Mint and menthol nicotine and tobacco products will soon be banned from convenience stores and only be allowed to be sold in adult-only, 21-plus specialty retailers in Boston.
Convenience stores had protested the move ahead of Monday's vote by the Boston Public Health Commission, as about 50% of their revenue is from tobacco, and about a third of that is from menthol-type products, according to Jonathan Shaer, executive director of the New England Convenience Store and Energy Marketers Association.
Another issue: countless people in the city use menthol cigarettes, and there's fear they'll turn to a black market because it'll just be too difficult to find.
"We already know that criminals and gangs exist in this space," said Shaer. "I guarantee that they are applauding the Boston Public Health Commission's decision tonight."
Public health officials say there's been an explosive expansion of vaping that needs to be addressed, but Schaer says the mint and menthol products have nothing to do with the vaping epidemic that has sickened people across the country.
"Anti-tobacco has been able to take advantage of vaping illnesses and conflate the situation," said Shaer.
Convenience stores can still sell mint and menthol cigarettes until June of 2020, but the regulations concerning other nicotine products take effect immediately, the commission said.