Humason likely to vote ‘no’ on ban of flavored tobacco products

WESTFIELD- State Sen. and Mayor-Elect Donald F. Humason Jr. said that he would likely vote similarly to state Rep. John C. Velis next week when a bill that would ban the sale and use of flavored tobacco products is expected to be voted on in the State Senate. 

Humason said that it is likely that he will vote to reject the bill as Velis did in the House. The flavored tobacco ban bill passed in the House 126-31. Velis was one of only a few Democrats to vote against it.

“The way I see it is, if you’re an adult, you can make your own decision,” said Humason, “When you’re 18-years-old you can vote for the President of the United States. If you have that power, you can certainly use your brain to make your own decisions.”

He indicated that he needs to really look at how the bill is written first before he commits to a vote one way or another, but that his current plan is to vote against it. 

The vote to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products would affect both vaping products and traditional tobacco products like cigarettes and cigars. The bill also comes in the middle of a blanket statewide ban on the sale of all vaping products order by Gov. Charlie D. Baker. Baker’s ban was enacted due to reports of an outbreak of mysterious lung illnesses that were blamed on vaping. 

Opponents to the Baker vape ban said that the illnesses are not the result of legal vaping product, but instead illicit THC vaping cartridges that were cut with Vitamin E acetate. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) came out with a report Nov. 14 that backs this up, saying that every patient they evaluated tested positive for the vitamin e. 

Fathima Ashra’s store, No Limits Vape and Smoke Shop in Westfield, has remained open since the ban was enacted in late September. She said that the ban on flavored products would further negatively impact her business, as such products make up a large portion of her inventory. That does not include the flavored vaping products that were already removed from her and other store’s shelves when the ban started. 

She did say that she would prefer the bill pass only if it means she can begin selling non-flavored vaping products as well as unflavored traditional tobacco. 

If the law is going to change again, however, she said she would want more warning than they got for the ban in September. For that, Governor Baker announced the ban and local Health Departments were going to each store to remove the products from their shelves the next day, giving the store owners little time to prepare.

“We would have to get rid of all the flavored products we have,” said Ashra, “We would like at least a couple weeks warning this time to prepare for different product.”

The ban ordered by Baker in September was originally set to expire in late January, but is now expected to end on Dec. 24.

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