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According to an article which appeared recently in the online version of The Boston Globe, by Kay Lazar, Boston’s Health Commission voted 5 to 1 to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in public places.

The electronic cigarettes, often used to help veteran smokers quit, provide some nicotine in the form of a vapor to their users. In addition to electronic cigarettes, Boston’s Health Commission also added the sale of individual cigars to their list of prohibited items for sale, as they have become attractive to teen smokers. Margaret Reid of the Health Commission vowed, “Cheap cigars aren’t going to be cheap anymore, and unregulated nicotine products won’t be sold to kids.” The ruling also included cigarillos, a small and sometimes flavored cigar. The ruling immediately “doubles fines for retailers in violation of the city’s tobacco control regulations,” raising the bar from $100 for the first offense and $400 for the fourth offense in 12 months, to $200 for the first offense and $800 for the fourth offense in 24 months.

In Boston, retailers, such as convenience stores, that desire to sell electronic cigarettes will have to apply for a permit to do so; and when they receive a permit to sell them, the products will be placed behind the counters and not sold to anyone under the age of 18 years. The move to ban electronic cigarettes seems to be picking up steam as fourteen other communities in Massachusetts have previously regulated their sale.

An unusual bit about this ban is that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t compiled a lot of data about the effects of the use electronic cigarettes, so the FDA has not weighed in formally on the issue. Given recent budget controversies, perhaps the FDA is waiting to confirm funding in the coming year.

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