The East Boston Neighborhood Against Substance Abuse (EBNASA) was instrumental in lobbying the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) to adopt new regulations concerning the sale of E-Cigarettes or electronic cigarettes in the city. After hearing from groups like EBNASA and he Boston Alliance for Public Health (BAPH), the BPHC voted this week to approved a proposal to treat e-cigarettes like tobacco products, including requiring retail establishments to obtain a permit to sell them, prohibiting their use in the workplace, and restricting their sale to adults only (people over the age of 18).
EBNASA worked closely with BAPH and collectively submitted over 400 signatures from Eastie in support of the new policy changes.
“EBNASA is pleased to have worked with and supported the Board of Health, BACH, and the Public Health Commission with the passage of these new regulations in response to this public health concern,” said EBNASA’s Coalition Supervisor Patricia Milano. “Since 90 percent of adult smokers start using tobacco before their 18th birthday, policies that make it more difficult for youth to acquire tobacco and nicotine products are important.”
Milano said existing regulations allow for youth of any age to purchase e-cigarettes, which contain even more nicotine than a normal cigarette.
E-cigarettes have been touted as way for smokers to quit but Milano said the easy to obtain alternatives began falling into the hands of kids in Eastie who were unable to legally purchase regular cigarettes.
According to EBNASA and the BPHC a handful of convenience stores in Eastie and Boston sell e-cigarettes and because they are not regulated like other tobacco, teens under the age of 18 can legally purchase them.
The new regulations require that e-cigarettes be placed behind the store counter, like tobacco products, and that they not be sold to minors. E-cigarettes will also not be allowed in the workplace, which includes restaurant patios and decks, and loading docks. Many commercials aired on T.V. by manufactures show e-cigarette smokers enjoying the device indoors because the cigarette device produces only a ‘harmless vapor’.
However, these claims have been largely disputed by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA found that e-cigarettes, which are made of plastic and metal, heat a liquid nicotine solution in a disposable cartridge to create vapor that the smoker inhales. The FDA found through laboratory testing that e-cigarettes contain toxic chemicals and carcinogens just like regular tobacco products.
“Tobacco exposure continues to be a significant factor that contributes to preventable sickness and death,’’ said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the BPHC. “The steps the board has taken today will help reduce young people’s exposure to tobacco and unregulated nicotine products and eliminate exposure to e-cigarette vapors containing nicotine and other known toxins in the workplace.’’
EBNASA has been working in Eastie with residents and partners to distribute information on helping smokers quit smoking. A two-week supply of free nicotine patches is available to Boston residents who call the 1-800-Quitline.