BOSTON (SHNS) – Boston convenience store owners are seeking face-to-face meetings with the six candidates running for mayor to discuss the state’s ban on menthol cigarettes, equating the law with the failed war on drugs in the 1980s that disproportionately harmed communities of color.
While marijuana has been legalized and alcohol remains legal, the store owners say menthol tobacco consumers are either buying the product in neighboring states, from the illicit market or transitioning to traditional tobacco products.
“Nobody has stopped smoking,” wrote Humayun Morshed, secretary of the Boston Convenience Store Owners Association. “Now, kids have widely available access to menthol on the unregulated streets. And, the state has lost upwards of $140 million in tax and excise revenue – money that could be dedicated to tangibly improve higher priority public health issues in our communities which have been historically underserved.”
The association said it would be reaching out individually to the mayoral campaigns to set up meetings.
“This seems like a good time for you, as candidates seeking to serve the City of Boston to see through the myths, misinformation, half-truths, and white lies perpetuated by anti-tobacco crusaders. We hope and expect that the new Mayor will have the courage to do something real to help our businesses and our communities,” Morshed wrote.
The 2019 law made Massachusetts the first state in the country to prohibit the retail sale of flavored vaping products and flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes. Since then, President Joe Biden has stated his intention to ban menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars.
Flavored tobacco products were viewed by policymakers as products more attractive to younger consumers that might entice them to try smoking, but menthol cigarettes were particularly popular in communities of color.