The Attorney General of Massachusetts, Maura Healey, joined the growing number of elected officials to call for taxing e-cigarettes and banning flavored vaping products on Wednesday, the same day House leaders said they needed more time to consider whether to tax electronic smoking products or take additional steps to curb vaping by teenagers.
Healey, in a speech to business leaders at Bank of America in Boston, said her efforts to go after vaping companies for marketing and selling nicotine products to minors can only accomplish so much to curb youth smoking.
Healey's speech to the New England Council came hours before House leaders unveiled a annual budget plan that did not include Gov. Charlie Baker's proposal to raise $6 million in new revenues by taxing e-cigarettes and applying a 40 percent excise tax on wholesale vapor products.
Healey has moved aggressively over the past year to crack down on the marketing of electronic vaping products to minors, launching an investigation last summer of Juul, the largest vaping company in the country, to determine whether it intentionally markets to minors and whether it tracks underage use of its products.
The attorney general has also sent cease-and-desist letters to online e-cigarette retailers like the California-based Kilo E-Liquids that state investigators determined to be selling products into Massachusetts without verifying the ages of buyers.
Users of nicotine and tobacco products must be 21 year old to purchase in Massachusetts.
"Just because something is legal for adults doesn't means that it's safe and that's part of the message we have to really drive home here," Healey told business leaders on Wednesday. "Nicotine and these products are highly addictive and they're not good for developing lungs, minds and brains."
Healey said she's heard from superintendents, teachers, parents and students about the pervasiveness of vaping in schools. One student, she said, told her about receiving a pop-up ad on her phone for vaping products while using an app designed to help her with algebra homework.
The push to tax electronic cigarettes and ban flavored vaping products has appeared to gain momentum on Beacon Hill this year after the Legislature last session passed the law raising the statewide age to purchase tobacco and nicotine products to 21.
"There is no excise tax on e-cigarettes and it doesn't make sense that we don't treat it the same way as cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products," Decker said.
So call for all vaping customers in Massachusetts is to have your voices heard. Reach out to your local representatives and express your feelings for vaping and it's positive impact on your health and life.