Schedules public hearing for Oct. 4
Seeking to close a loophole on unregulated products like electronic cigarettes that deliver nicotine, the Boston Public Health Commission’s Board of Health gave preliminary approval today to a proposal that would treat e-cigarettes like tobacco products, including requiring retail establishments to obtain a permit to sell them, banning their use in the workplace, and prohibiting their sale to minors.
The board also gave initial approval to doubling the fines for retailers that sell tobacco products to youth under 18 and violate other tobacco control regulations, and to prohibit the sale of low-cost, single-sale cigars that have become an attractive option for price-conscious youth looking for less expensive alternatives to cigarettes.
``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 products and ensure that unregulated nicotine products don’t become the gateway drug for subsequent tobacco use.’’
Under the proposal, retailers must apply for a permit through the Boston Public Health Commission’s Tobacco Control office to sell e-cigarettes, which are not nicotine replacement therapy. E-cigarettes are made of plastic and metal and heat a liquid nicotine solution in a disposable cartridge to create vapor that the smoker inhales. The US Food and Drug Administration found through laboratory testing that e-cigarettes contain toxic chemicals and carcinogens. Currently, it is legal to sell e-cigarettes to children.
A handful of convenience stores in Boston sell e-cigarettes, according to a survey conducted by the Northeastern University School of Law Public Health Legal Clinic, which also found more stores interested in selling them. The proposed regulations would require that e-cigarettes be placed behind the store counter, like tobacco products, and that they not be sold to minors. E-cigarettes use would also be banned in the workplace, which includes restaurant patios and decks, and loading docks.
As for cigars, other proposed changes include a requirement that they be sold in their original manufacturer packaging of at least five and bear a health warning, 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 the city’s tobacco control regulations would double – from $100 for the first offense and $400 for the fourth offense over 12 months to $200 for the first offense and $800 for the fourth offense over 24 months.
A public hearing on the proposed regulation is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 4, in the 2nd floor Hayes Conference Room at the Boston Public Health Commission, 1010 Massachusetts, in Boston. Written comments are being accepted by the Board of Health from Sunday, Sept. 11, through Oct. 10. They can be sent to the Boston Public Health Commission, Board Office, Attention: Jamie Martin, Board Secretary, 1010 Massachusetts Avenue, 6th floor, Boston, MA 02118 or emailed to email@example.com.
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