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Flavored tobacco ban would drive dangerous black market

In response to the editorial, “Ban on flavored tobacco is worth revenue loss,” (April 6).

A statewide ban on the sale of tobacco by licensed retailers is not a binary debate of money versus health, or tobacco companies versus communities of color, as anti-tobacco advocates and the Day’s Editorial Board would have you believe.

Instead, it is matter of appropriate policymaking and examining the realistic consequences that would result. The truth is, all tobacco products, including flavored tobacco, are safest when sold through the current regulated and taxed system. Banning legal adult products like menthol cigarettes and smokeless tobacco will not eliminate demand but will only transfer it to unregulated and out of state markets. This is exactly what is happening in Massachusetts since it banned flavored tobacco on June 1, 2020.

In 2019, anti-tobacco advocates, capitalizing on alarming youth vaping rates and a black-market THC vape scare, managed to conflate the issue by also targeting traditional flavored tobacco products preferred by adults. But in 2021, with drastic federal action against flavored vape and dropping youth usage numbers, that story no longer works so they have flipped to racism and revenue. Let’s hope our elected leaders see through this charade and reject this misguided proposal.

Jonathan Shaer

Executive Director of the New England Convenience Store and Energy Marketers Association

Stoughton, Massachusetts

Chris Herb

President of Connecticut Energy Marketers Association

Cromwell

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