Massachusetts Medical Society: Testimony in Support of 940 CMR 21.00: ''Sales and Distribution of Cigarettes, Smokeless Tobacco Products, and Electronic Smoking Devices in Massachusetts Regulations''

Testimony in Support of 940 CMR 21.00: ''Sales and Distribution of Cigarettes, Smokeless Tobacco Products, and Electronic Smoking Devices in Massachusetts Regulations''

Before the Office of the Attorney General

The Massachusetts Medical Society wishes to be recorded in support of the Attorney General’s proposed changes to 940 CMR 21.00- the consumer protection regulations related to the sales and distribution of cigarettes, smokeless tobacco products, and now electronic smoking devices.

The Attorney General’s proposed regulations are timely—a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the use of e-cigarette devices tripled among middle- and high-school students from 2013 to 2014. Flavors such as “Bubble Gum” and “Popstar” appear to be a replication of strategies used by cigarette manufacturers a generation ago intended to target vulnerable youth to their addictive, harmful products. Strong regulation of the sale and distribution of these products is imperative for the public health of the Commonwealth.

The Medical Society commends the Attorney General for taking this important first step. Prohibiting sales to minors as well as protecting children from dangerous liquid nicotine through safer packaging are two worthy policies that will directly deter young residents of Massachusetts from taking up this harmful habit. It will also send a message to adults that these items have hidden dangers.  Last year alone, the American Association of Poison Control Center data included an increase in the number of liquid nicotine exposures by 2,240.  Certainly while not all exposures are overdoses or poisonings, the number highlights the continuing threat to babies, children, and adults.  Nine hundred and seventy-five exposures nationwide have been reported for the first three months of 2015. 

The MMS remains committed to seeing additional laws passed in the state house this year to further regulate electronic smoking devices. We remain in support of legislation banning electronic smoking in the workplace, and we see value in the legislative proposal by Chairman Sanchez and Senate Majority Leader Chandler that thoughtfully anticipates how to regulate new tobacco products developed to skirt existing definitions of covered tobacco products. 

While the tobacco industry, and indeed, some policymakers, view e-cigarettes as less hazardous alternatives to combustible cigarettes, the Mass Medical Society is among those that see them as a gateway product to tobacco abuse and nicotine addiction and support restricting the sale of such products, similar to the sale of cigarettes.  In fact, the MMS supports the prohibition of electronic smoking devices for all persons under age 21.

For today, the MMS urges the Attorney General to promulgate 940 CMR 21.00 as proposed to help prevent children from using electronic cigarettes and to reduce all of the harmful effects of this addictive practice. 

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