Somerville Limits E-Cigarettes to Adult-only Stores
In an effort to curb the use of e-cigarettes among teenagers, the city of Somerville has limited e-cigarettes and menthol cigarettes to the shelves of tobacco stores. Open only to customers who are 21 and older.
Earlier, Massachusetts raised the legal age for tobacco purchases from 18 to 21. Which will take effect on December 31, 2018.
Somerville’s move was the first of its kind in the state and probably across the country. Which goes further by removing menthol and e-cigarettes from shops, such as convenience stores accessible to teenagers. The new restrictions in this city outside Boston will take effect on April 1, 2019.
Somerville Mayor Speaks
Mayor Joseph Dakota Curtatone, said in a written statement: “These products are sold shamelessly to teenagers. Teens know nothing about health risks and have become e-cigarettes’ biggest users. Which is why we see the Surgeon General called for major intervention measures to end the public health crisis.”
“We are meeting this challenge by becoming an early adopter of these regulations and taking the measures necessary to stop the cycle of nicotine addiction among our young people,”Curtatone continued.
The use of e-cigarettes among teenagers soared between 2017 and 2018, according to a National Youth Tobacco Survey which was released by the US Food and Drug Administration and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the survey, more than 3.6 million teenagers used e-cigarettes in 2018, up from 1.5 million the year before. Use increased 78 percent in high schools and 48 percent in middle schools.
Plus the FDA…
Last month, FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said: “We still hold the view that non-combustible forms of nicotine delivery, like e-cigarettes, might be a less harmful alternative for adult smokers.”
“But, as we have said before, we will not allow this opportunity to come at the expense of a new generation of children addicted to nicotine,” he said. “Even though it risks narrowing the off-ramp from smoking for adults. We have to close the on-ramp of nicotine addiction for kids.”
Other efforts to close that “on-ramp” include banning the sales of flavored tobacco products like bubble gum and green apple. Critics say these products are designed specifically for children. For instance, San Francisco voters passed a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes in June.
Somerville isn’t the only one
In addition to Massachusetts, other cities including Hawaii, California, New Jersey, Oregon, and Maine have also raised the legal smoking age to 21. At least 380 local municipalities including Chicago, New York City, Cleveland, and San Antonio did the same before their own states did. According to the advocacy organization Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Vince Willmore, the advocacy group’s vice president of communications, praised Somerville’s move, saying he considered the city is “the first to restrict all e-cigarettes sales to adult-only tobacco stores.”
“Last November, the FDA recommended that new restrictions on e-cigarettes should be put in place. However, it’s not clear what that means or when that will happen,” Mr. Willmore continued.
“What my fellow advocates and I would like to see includes an end to online sales of e-cigarettes. Until there are stronger safeguards against sales to kids,” he said.
He also wants to see a ban on flavored e-cigarettes, if manufacturers cannot prove that certain flavors are effective in helping smokers to quit, Willmore added.
“Those who are fighting the day-to-day war against teenagers’ use of nicotine should and can draw inspiration from local battles. What Somerville has done represents the kind of strong action we need to take, which is a good example of what other communities need to do.”
Ryan is a writer, editor and content creator who spends most of his time bringing the interesting, entertaining, original and well-written articles to vapers. He believes that vaping is not only a healthier alternative to smoking, but also a great experience of life.