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Board of Health discuss possible e-cig law changes

Members show sympathy for local businesses impacted by state ban

Susan Horowitz and Robert Fleischer of the Groton Board of Health discussing adding regulations on vaping to the Town Code
Susan Horowitz and Robert Fleischer of the Groton Board of Health discussing adding regulations on vaping to the Town Code

GROTON – With the temporary statewide ban on sales of all vaping products still in effect, local communities are awaiting what comes next when the ban’s time-frame ends.

One of those communities is Groton, where the Board of Health discussed the possibility of changing Chapter 322 of the town code during its meeting on Monday, Oct. 7.

The law covers regulations for cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, snuff or any other form of tobacco. The current chapter doesn’t specifically identify electronic cigarettes or vapes, though both usually contain nicotine that is often found in tobacco products.

While it recognized the seriousness of the national vaping issue, the Board of Health didn’t want to delve too deep into a discussion on amending the chapter. That could come later.

Member Jason Weber was not in attendance at Monday’s meeting and the rest of the board wanted to wait until he returned for the next meeting to have a more in-depth discussion.

The board also recognized the uncertainty of the situation with the temporary statewide ban still in effect.

Member Susan Horowitz asked how many businesses in town were selling e-cigarette products at the time of the ban going into effect and showed concern over how hurt those stores would be from the state ban. Many state retail stores that did good business selling vapes last year could go out of business due to the ban.

“As a business owner, I feel bad for people who got caught up in this,” Horowitz said. “Now that it’s coming out how many people have been damaged, it’s got to be dealt with. It’s just getting more scary with all of the health stuff coming out.”

Gov. Charlie Baker announced a public health emergency on Sept. 24, putting the ban into effect. The ban came after multiple people across the country suffered lung illnesses from frequently using vapes.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced the first known vaping-related death in the state on Monday, with a female Hampshire County resident in her 60s dying after frequently vaping. The woman was one of the 121 suspected cases alerted to the DPH since early September. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that as of Oct. 1, about 1,080 cases of lung-injury related to vape use have been reported in 48 states, with 18 deaths confirmed in 15 states.

The Groton Board of Health is set to meet again this November.