Boston's Board of Health Approves Electronic Cigarette Rules

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Boston's Board of Health Approves Electronic Cigarette Rules


BOSTON -- One of the appealing aspects of electronic cigarettes is the ability for adult consumers to use them anywhere traditional cigarettes are banned. But that has all changed in Boston.

The Boston Public Health Commission's Board of Health has approved an earlier proposal to treat e-cigarettes like tobacco products, including workplace bans. The newly adopted rules restrict their sale to adults only and require retailers to get a permit to sell them. The rules are effective immediately.

Under the new regulations, agreed upon last week, retailers must apply for a permit through the Boston Public Health Commission's Tobacco Control Office to sell any nicotine product that is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a nicotine replacement therapy. The FDA found through laboratory testing that e-cigarettes contain toxic chemicals and carcinogens, according to a release from the commission.

A survey conducted by the Northeastern University School of Law Public Health Legal Clinic found that a handful of convenience stores in Boston sell electronic cigarettes and more stores are interested in carrying them, the commission said. The new regulations require that e-cigarettes be placed behind the store counter, like tobacco products, and that they not be sold to minors. E-cigarettes also will not be allowed in the workplace, which includes restaurant patios and decks, and loading docks.

The board also approved a requirement that cigars be sold in their original manufacturer packaging of at least four, which is intended to combat single-sales marketing to youth and discourage their initiation into cigarette smoking. In addition, fines for retailers found in violation of Boston's tobacco control regulations will 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.

The new cigar regulations go into effect on Jan. 31.

"Tobacco exposure continues to be a significant factor that contributes to preventable sickness and death," said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission. "The steps the board has taken today will help reduce young people's exposure to tobacco and unregulated nicotine products, and eliminate exposure to e-cigarette vapors containing nicotine and other known toxins in the workplace."

The commission first approved the proposed versions of these new regulations on Sept. 8. During the course of a 60-day public comment period and a public hearing, the Board of Health received 296 comments supporting the e-cigarettes restrictions and 596 favoring the cigar packaging change, compared to 34 comments opposing the e-cigarette restrictions and 18 opposing the cigar packaging change, according to the commission.