Massachusetts Health Board Approves New Restrictions on the Sale of Tobacco Products

Tobacco products on sale at retail

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Public Health Council approved new rules restricting the sale of nicotine vapor, and flavored vapor and tobacco products.

The move comes a month after the state legislature approved legislation to ban the sale of flavored tobacco and vapor products — including menthol cigarettes — across the state. Gov. Charles Baker signed it into law on Nov. 27.

The new law, An Act Modernizing Tobacco Control, includes a number of restrictions on the sale of tobacco products, including limiting the sale of flavored nicotine vaping products to licensed smoking bars where they may only be smoked on-site. 

Baker's signature also gave the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) new authority to regulate the sale of nicotine vaping products, to ensure the public is informed about the potential dangers of vaping and to implement other provisions of the law in order to protect the public health.

With the Dec. 11 action by the state health panel, the new regulations effective immediately are:

  • Retail stores licensed to sell tobacco products, such as convenience stores, gas stations, and other retail outlets, are restricted to the sale of non-flavored nicotine products with a nicotine content of 35 milligrams per milliliter or less.
  • The sale of non-flavored nicotine vaping products (with a nicotine content more than 35 milligrams per milliliter) is restricted to licensed, adult-only retail tobacco stores and smoking bars.
  • The sale and consumption of all flavored nicotine vaping products may only occur within licensed smoking bars.

Beginning June 1, 2020, the sale of flavored combustible cigarettes and other tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes and flavored chewing tobacco, will be restricted to licensed smoking bars where they may be sold only for on-site consumption.

A 75-percent excise tax on the wholesale price of nicotine vaping products, in addition to the state's 6.75 percent sales tax, will also go into effect on June 1.

For a breakdown of what tobacco products can be sold where, click here.

"Massachusetts has taken important steps to protect its residents from the emerging public health risk posed by vaping products, and with the new law signed by Gov. Baker and the introduction of today's regulations, we continue to prioritize actions that protect the public health," said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel.

The new regulations also lay out a roadmap for the implementation of the new law, including enforcement authority, penalties for non-compliance, legal signage, and advertising requirements. A public hearing on the regulations will be scheduled within the next 90 days.