In June 2020, Massachusetts passed a law to ban all menthol-flavored cigarettes and vaping products. It’s now been three years since the legislation passed, and we think it’s worth looking at what its impact has been.
While tobacco is an undeniable cause of lung cancer and other ailments, menthol cigarettes were often thought of as a safer alternative by the public. However, this wasn’t entirely true.
As consumption increased, the harmful effects of menthol cigarettes became clear. In this article, we will explore why menthol cigarettes were banned, what the factors leading up to the ban were, and if the restriction had the intended effect on the state.
Many people erroneously believed that they could use menthol cigarettes to beat a tobacco addiction. Unfortunately, all that ended up achieving was getting people addicted to menthol cigarettes.
Countless lobby firms have sought to highlight how Menthol cigarettes also contain nicotine and are highly addictive. Menthol is even known to enhance the addictive properties of nicotine.
The cooling sensation also causes people to inhale each puff deeper. This, in turn, exposes the lungs to harmful substances like tar and causes respiratory issues like bronchitis and emphysema.
These cigarettes are also a common addiction in the Black community due to advertising that specifically targets them.
While there are many factors responsible for the 2020 legislation, the main reason was the undeniable evidence of the harmful effects of menthol cigarettes.
The push from parents, teachers, and even the government to regulate their spread was overwhelming. As a result, it felt like every Boston lobbying firm put in a lot of effort toward advocating for the menthol cigarette ban.
It is clear that protecting the youth was a primary factor in this process. According to Corry Associates, the banning of flavored tobacco products, vaping, and menthol cigarettes was needed due to their popularity among underage children.
Jerome Adams, who served as the Surgeon General of the U.S. Public Health Service until 2021, also put out an advisory about e-cigarette use among youth. With his highlighting of the need to take action to protect the nation’s youth, the stage was set for anti-menthol cigarette legislation.
The answer to that question is a tad complex. The effects of the menthol and flavored cigarette ban were immediate in some ways. For one, the amount of taxable income saw an immediate drop.
The Massachusetts Department of Revenue had predicted that the loss in sales tax would hit $93 million in 2021. This wasn’t too far off from the actual loss of $100 million. While it is a significant amount, it was a drop that everyone saw coming a mile away.
There was a 24% drop in the sale of cigarette tax stamps when compared to previous data. However, people didn’t just choose to stop buying cigarettes. They merely changed where they bought it from.
Menthol cigarette sales rose in surrounding areas like Rhode Island and New Hampshire. Rhode Island saw a 40% increase, while New Hampshire saw a massive 91% spike. This indicates that a significant amount of menthol cigarette users in Massachusetts found a way to bypass the ban relatively quickly.
There is also concern about the black market that has taken over. Officials in the state are confiscating so many items, they don’t have any more space to store them. However, even with all these factors, experts and many lobbyists in Boston believe that a blanket ban on menthol cigarettes is something the whole nation needs.
While it is true that the ban has not exactly stopped people from getting their hands on the products, one cannot dismiss the long-term benefits to the health of our children.
In the short term, current users will obviously travel to get their cigarettes. However, general human laziness is going to be the more reliable factor that ends up making potential users avoid the hassle of finding menthol cigarettes.
Some would say that the ban has created more problems than it solved. Others would argue that any step toward protecting the health of our children is worth it.
Despite the supposed issues that the ban has created, several other states have decided to go ahead with similar restrictions. As of July 2023, several other states have joined Massachusetts in banning menthol cigarettes. One cannot overlook the role of lobbying firms in Massachusetts, which played a part in influencing legislation.
With more states thinking about joining this list, it is only a matter of time before the rest of the nation views menthol cigarettes with the seriousness it deserves.