Bill seeks statewide ban on flavored tobacco
By Colin A. Young | State House News Service
BOSTON – A state senator says Cumberland Farms’ lawsuit against six local boards of health – including Framingham’s – is proof of the need for a state law banning products like some of the most popular Juul pods and more.
Westborough-based Cumberland Farms, which operates more than 200 stores in Massachusetts, last week sued the boards of health in Barnstable, Billerica, Framingham, Sharon, Somerville and Walpole in an attempt to block the prohibition on flavored tobacco at convenience stores. The company said the local regulations “have created anti-competitive marketplaces that grant monopolies to specialty stores like smoke shops and smoking bars.”
“We are proud of our excellent compliance rates in selling age-restricted products. Nobody does it better than Cumberland Farms, which is why we find the new regulations so nonsensical and frustrating,” Brian Glennon, general counsel for Cumberland Farms, said. “We’re simply calling for a level playing field where we can continue to serve all of our customers, without unelected local officials taking away their right to choose where to shop and what to buy.”
State Sen. John Keenan, D-Quincy, who along with state Rep. Danielle Gregoire, D-Marlborough, is pushing legislation that would ban the sale of flavored tobacco products statewide, said the suit shows that Cumberland Farms is more concerned about profit than public health.
“Juul, convenience store owners, flavor manufacturers, vape shops, and Big Tobacco all try to convince us they care about kids. But when local communities stand up and do the right thing to protect young people, big players file lawsuits to protect their sales at the expense of our kids,” Keenan said. “The industry knows the key to future profits is attracting kids early with flavors.”
The bill Keenan and Gregoire filed was referred to the Committee on Public Health in January, but has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.