Yarmouth Shelves Possible Ban of E-Cigarette Sales

YARMOUTH – The Yarmouth Board of Health has shelved proposals to ban the sale of electronic cigarette devices and menthol, mint and wintergreen flavored tobacco products.

The board voted last week not to pursue new regulations which were being discussed to limit the use of vaping or flavored products by teens.

“After hearing three meetings, the Board of Health determined it should go with an education program first and working with the high school and putting a program on at the high school in May,” said Bruce Murphy, the Yarmouth Health Director.

In 2014, the town banned the sale of electronic cigarette devices for individuals under 21, along with banning the sale of flavored tobacco products with the exception of menthol, mint and wintergreen.

Murphy said the board believes the ban of vaping devises for adults would be ineffective because of the ease of access from neighboring towns or online.

The board is still looking at other steps it may take.

“After the education program in May, the board will probably look in the fall and reassess what other Cape Cod towns are doing and what is happening across the state,” Murphy said.

Murphy said another town that is seeking a ban on menthol, mint and wintergreen flavors faces a potential lawsuit from the tobacco companies.

“The [Yarmouth] board doesn’t want to get into a lawsuit with the tobacco companies right away,” Murphy said.

Cumberland Farms has currently filed a lawsuit against Yarmouth for the ban of a flavored tobacco product.

“The board is just trying to move slowly at this time and watch what other towns are doing and then we will look at it again in the fall,” Murphy said.

Three listening sessions were held over the last month which included Physicans, health officials and retailers. Some health professionals believe the vaping devices have led to an epidemic and should be banned, including Dr. Jeffrey Spillane.

“I’ve become increasingly alarmed with the growth of vaping within the adolescent community,” Spillane said.

Spillane said cigarette smoking among teenagers has been declining.

“Kids today, if you talk to them, think it’s gross,” he said. “But we are on the edge of an epidemic.”

The use of e-cigarettes has been declared an epidemic by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Spillane said he originally thought the concept of these devices for adults would help with smoking cessation.

“The problem is that this has become, for teenagers, a fad,” he said. “It has run rampant nationally.”

During the last public hearing on the proposals, Dr. Michael Siegel, an anti-tobacco advocate, argued that the bans could be harmful to adults who quit smoking cigarettes with the help of vaping devices.

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