Metro

Mass. to ban sales of e-cigarettes to minors

State regulations had previously been silent on the topic of e-cigarettes.
Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press
State regulations had previously been silent on the topic of e-cigarettes.

Massachusetts will soon ban the sale of e-cigarettes to people younger than 18, a regulation that puts it in line with most other states in restricting minors’ access to the devices.

Attorney General Maura Healey’s office said Monday it had finalized new rules proposed earlier this year to place tighter controls on how retailers can sell the increasingly popular products. Most of the regulations take effect Sept. 25.

State regulations had previously been silent on the topic of e-cigarettes, which use heat to generate a vapor that contains nicotine.

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In addition to the ban on sales to minors, the regulations prohibit sales in any manner other than face-to-face exchanges, require e-cigarettes to be kept in a location accessible only to store employees, and prevent promotional giveaways and other free distributions of e-cigarettes.

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Vending machines will be allowed only in places children cannot access.

The rules also call for child-resistant packaging for nicotine liquid or gel, a measure that will take effect on March 15, 2016.

In a statement, Healey noted that the health effects of e-cigarette use are not fully understood, and she pointed to concerns over how nicotine affects the body.

She also criticized the use of what she called “child-friendly” flavors of nicotine gel and liquid, such as bubble gum and French toast.

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Those who use and sell e-cigarettes say such flavors are targeted toward adults and say the devices can help users stop smoking cigarettes. In March, a group of four e-cigarette companies came out in support of Healey’s plan to block sales to minors.

“The growth of the e-cigarette market has posed a serious public health risk to Massachusetts residents and calls for strict oversight to protect our young people,” Healey said in a statement. “Now that these regulations are in place, businesses will be required to keep these addictive products out of the hands of minors, an important step to further reduce youth smoking.”

Andy Rosen can be reached at andrew.rosen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @andyrosen.