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Massachusetts passes bill to ban flavored tobacco, impose 75% tax on e-cigarettes

By Daniel Uria

Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Massachusetts on Thursday passed a law banning the sale of flavored tobacco and placing an excise tax on e-cigarettes.

The bill would make Massachusetts the first state to place a permanent ban on menthol cigarettes, impose a 75 percent tax on e-ciagarettes and order healthcare providers to pay for tobacco cessation programs in an effort to curb youth smoking.

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"Menthol is a flavor. It reduces the harshness of smoking, making it easier to start and harder to quit," Sen. John Keenan, one of the bill's sponsors, wrote on Twitter ahead of the vote. "Today, young people smoke menthol cigarettes more than any other group. A bill that does not ban menthol is a bill that does not protect our kids."

The bill will now be sent to Republican Gov. Charlie Baker who has not indicated whether or not he will sign it into law.

Baker has previously announced a temporary 4-month ban on vape sales in the state for both tobacco and marijuana e-cigarettes declaring the matter a public health emergency.

Multiple states have imposed bans and other legislation on e-cigarettes and other vaping products as the United States has seen 49 vaping related deaths and 2,290 lung injury cases.

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