Massachusetts Medical Society: Comments Regarding Proposed Regulations 105 CMR 665.000: Minimum Standards for Retail Sale of Tobacco and Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems

Comments Regarding Proposed Regulations 105 CMR 665.000: Minimum Standards for Retail Sale of Tobacco and Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems

The Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS), representing over 25,000 physicians, physicians-in-training, and medical students, appreciates the opportunity to provide comment on proposed regulations implementing minimum standards for retail sale of tobacco and electronic nicotine delivery systems. The Medical Society has long supported and prioritized a prohibition on the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and other vape products. As such, MMS wishes to be recorded as fully supportive of these regulations and thanks the Massachusetts Public Health Council for your work in this regard.

To protect youth in Massachusetts, we must fully implement Chapter 133 of the Acts of 2019, An Act Modernizing Tobacco Control, and remove all flavored tobacco from the market in Massachusetts and ensure that the regulation is easy for retailers to follow and for local boards of health to enforce. To that end, we ask that you fully implement Part (E) of Section 665.010: Sale of Tobacco Products and Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems. The requirement that those retailers selling tobacco products must be able to show a letter from a manufacturer certifying those products do not have a characterizing flavor will streamline enforcement of the law and efforts for local boards of health. Documenting presence of a flavor will not be onerous for manufacturers, as they do and should know what is included in their products.

Additionally, we ask that you proceed with the regulations and with an effective date of June 1. We are grateful and applaud the removal of flavored e-cigarettes/vapes from store shelves and online retailers selling in Massachusetts. It is certainly time to see this effort to completion with the removal of flavored cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco. The FDA banned flavored cigarettes in 2009 because flavored tobacco products attract youth. Due to political pressure, mint and menthol were exempted from the ban. It has become evident in 2020 that this was a mistake, as a majority of youth who use cigarettes smoke menthol. It is critical that those young people who have been exposed to flavored vape products not turn to menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products as a substitute. It is critical that Massachusetts step in to to protect our young people where the FDA has failed to do so. Flavors should not be used in e-cigarettes, cigarettes, cigars, or any other tobacco product. Existing regulations implemented by the Public Health Council have been very effective – but young people are still using flavored tobacco products and strong regulation, including manufacturers’ letters certifying flavored products, is necessary.

Thank you for your diligence regarding the flavored tobacco problem in Massachusetts. These regulations will prevent the tobacco industry from using flavored products, including menthol, to create a new generation of smokers and will protect Massachusetts youth and the public health.

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