Lawmakers, students push for ban on flavored tobacco on Beacon Hill

BOSTON — Students and lawmakers made a push at the State House on Tuesday for Massachusetts to ban the sale of almost all flavored tobacco and tobacco products, including mentholated cigarettes and some of the most popular vape products.

Dozens of high school and college students who said the use of nicotine vapor products has become a widespread aspect of student life held a press conference to support the legislation. The event was organized by Tobacco Free Mass, a coalition that includes the American Heart Association, that advocates for funding and policies that support tobacco prevention and cessation.

Sen. John Keenan of Quincy (pictured) and Rep. Danielle Gregoire of Marlborough filed bills that would ban the sale of all flavored tobacco products in Massachusetts. Chris Camire/American Heart Association

Although cigarette smoking rates have hit an all-time low in the United States, the use of e-cigarettes and newer tobacco products is on the rise – especially among young people – and is threatening to undo decades of tobacco control efforts,

In particular, e-cigarettes are now the most popular tobacco product among youth in the United States. An estimated 3.1 million high school students, or 20.8 percent, used e-cigarettes in 2018, compared to 22,000 students, or 1.5 percent, in 2011. Between 2017 and 2018 alone, 1.5 million more young people used e-cigarettes – a 78 percent increase in use among high school students and a nearly 50 percent increase in use among middle school students.

Matt Murphy, 20, of Reading, talks to the media about his struggles to break his addiction to e-cigarettes. Chris Camire/American Heart Association

“My addiction cost me thousands of dollars and my tenure as a subservient footsoldier doing the bidding of Juul tormented me mentally.” — Matt Murphy, a rising junior at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, who was addicted to vaping nicotine with a Juul device for about two years until he kicked the habit last summer.

Many kids falsely believe e-cigarettes and other tobacco products are safe. Some don’t even realize they contain nicotine. But these products can deliver much higher concentrations of this addictive drug than traditional cigarettes. For example, a JUUL prefilled liquid pod contains as much nicotine as a whole pack of cigarettes.

Below is a round-up of news coverage from Tuesday’s event at the State House. If you’d like to become an advocate, visit You’re The Cure.

Boston 25 News: Some Mass. lawmakers want statewide ban on flavored tobacco, vape products

WGBH: Tobacco, Vaping Products Targeted With Flavor Ban

CBS Boston: Smoking And Vaping Bills Scheduled For Statehouse Hearing

South Coast Today: Tobacco, vaping products targeted with flavor ban

NBC Boston: Clash Over Proposed Ban on Flavored Tobacco

Boston Herald: Bill calling for ban on vaping pens would be the nation’s first if passed

Telegram & Gazette: Lawmakers, students push for ban on flavored tobacco

MassLive: Attorney General Maura Healey says unregulated e-cigarette flavors getting a new generation hooked on nicotine

7News Boston: State lawmakers call for ban on flavored tobacco

Sentinel & Enterprise: Students, pols push for near total ban

Brockton Enterprise: Keenan, others push for ban on flavored tobacco

MetroWest Daily News: Marlborough state Rep. Gregoire urges ban on flavored tobacco, vapes