Boston Commission Proposes Electronic Cigarette Rules
BOSTON -- The Boston Public Health Commission has approved rules governing the sale and regulation of electronic cigarettes. The vote came at the commission's meeting yesterday, Sept. 8.
Under the commission's proposed rules, retailers would be required to obtain a permit to sell the products and would be prohibited to sell them to minors. The proposal would also ban use of e-cigarettes in the workplace, according to a report by the Boston Globe.
"We don't know what people are inhaling with these e-cigarettes," said Nikysha Harding, director of tobacco control for the commission. "We see these as a gateway for youth to become addicted to nicotine."
In addition to electronic cigarette regulations, the commission also gave an initial OK to a plan to double the fines for retailers who sell tobacco products to consumers under 18 years old or who violate other tobacco control regulations. The rules also would prohibit the sale of low-cost, single cigars just slightly larger than cigarettes -- called cigarillos -- that have become an attractive option for price-conscious youth looking for alternatives to cigarettes. The cigarillos sell for as little as 50 cents each, the newspaper reported.
The proposals are now subject to a month-long public comment period and a public hearing on Oct. 4. The commission is scheduled to take a final vote on Nov. 10. If approved, the new regulations would become effective within 30 days; however, the cigarillo restrictions would go into effect 60 days later.
If the rules become final, retailers would have to apply for a permit through the commission's Tobacco Control office to sell e-cigarettes. Retailers would also have to place e-cigarettes behind the counter, like tobacco products; the sale to minors would be prohibited. E-cigarette use would be banned in the workplace, which includes restaurant patios and decks, and loading docks.
At least two other Massachusetts communities -- South Hadley and North Attleboro -- already regulate the sale of e-cigarettes, according to the Boston commission.
As for cigarillos, they would have to be sold in their original manufacturer packaging of at least five and feature a health warning. These measures are intended to combat single-sales marketing to youth.
Fines for retailers found in violation of the city's tobacco control regulations would double -- from $100 for the first offense and $400 for the fourth offense in 12 months, to $200 for the first offense and $800 for the fourth offense in 24 months.