FRAMINGHAM — Stores that serve minors will be prohibited from selling menthol-flavored tobacco products and vaping accessories under new regulations that take effect next year.
The Framingham Board of Health voted unanimously Thursday to restrict the sale of menthol, mint and wintergreen flavored tobacco products to adult-only stores — those that restrict entry to customers 21 and older.
The amended regulations, which take effect Jan. 1, 2020, will require most convenience stores and gas stations in the city to remove menthol cigarettes from their shelves.
New rules will also restrict the sale of smoking accessories, such as vaping pens and e-cigarettes. Beginning next year, adult-only shops, marijuana dispensaries and stores with permits to sell smoking accessories will be the only locations that carry vaping gear.
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The actions come as public health officials and school leaders grapple with soaring levels of electronic cigarette use among local youth.
A recent survey conducted by a student advisory committee found that a little more than 80 percent of Framingham High School students have seen another student vaping in campus bathrooms. Over half of the students surveyed said they have avoided bathrooms at least once because of the issue.
Bob Tremblay, superintendent of schools, said students are undoubtedly addicted. Officials at Framingham High removed more than two dozen toilets because empty vaping cartridges had been flushed down their pipes.
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Adam Freudberg, chairman of the School Committee, said the problem requires a comprehensive response from city leaders.
“I have seen in my year-plus on the School Committee dramatic stories and problems that we’re hearing about in our schools,” Freudberg said.
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Framingham previously increased the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21, and restricted the sale of nearly all flavored products to adult-only stores.
Mint and menthol products — which were exempted from the restrictions — are most popular among younger smokers. Studies show they are more addictive and harder to quit than other forms of tobacco, said Sam Wong, the city’s health director.
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