Canton, Mass., Seeks to Ban E-Cigarettes and Certain Smokeless Products

Published in Tobacco E-News

By  Thomas A. Briant, Executive Director

The Canton, Mass., Board of Health is scheduled to conduct a public hearing on August 12, 2013, on a proposed set of tobacco regulations, which include a citywide ban on the sale of electronic cigarettes, a prohibition on the sale of such smokeless tobacco products such as nicotine lozenges, orbs and sticks, and an increase in the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21.  

The Canton, Mass., Board of Health is scheduled to conduct a public hearing on August 12, 2013, on a proposed set of tobacco regulations, which include a citywide ban on the sale of electronic cigarettes, a prohibition on the sale of such smokeless tobacco products such as nicotine lozenges, orbs and sticks, and an increase in the legal age to purchase tobacco products to 21. 

NATO staff has been in contact with the director of the Canton Board of Health due to apparent contradictions in the draft language of the proposed tobacco regulations.  On the one hand, the proposed regulation would prohibit the sale of electronic cigarettes and some smokeless tobacco products as defined in the ordinance, but exempts “traditional tobacco products” from the sales ban.  Smokeless tobacco products are then defined in the proposed ordinance as “any tobacco product that may or may not produce a vapor, but does not produce smoke, not including chewing tobacco or snuff.” 

On the other hand, traditional “tobacco products” are defined as “cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, pipe tobacco, snuff, and any other merchandise for human consumption containing plant material from any of several plants belonging to the genus Nicotiana, of the nightshade family, including, but not limited to the species Nicotiana tabacum.”

The apparent contradiction arises because while the definition of “tobacco products” does not reference snus, nicotine lozenges, nicotine orbs, or other similar nicotine products, the definition of “smokeless tobacco product” appears to include these other kinds of tobacco products under the sales ban language.  As a part of NATO’s ongoing local tobacco ordinance project, the association is working to determine the true intent of the Canton Board of Health and develop a response to the proposed sales ban.

This is a first-of-its-kind local restriction that attempts to prohibit the sale of otherwise legal electronic cigarettes and various smokeless tobacco products.