BROCKTON, Mass. (State House News Service) — A Brockton community leader is pushing for the state to delay the start of new restrictions on the sale of flavored tobacco products, including mint and menthol cigarettes, arguing that a one-year delay would allow communities of color and lawmakers to "craft a meaningful plan to address very real community issues that will be made worse" by the new tobacco prohibitions.
Bishop Filipe Teixeira of St. Martin De Porres in Brockton had Sen. Michael Brady file a by-request bill (SD 2953) Thursday that would delay for one year the law restricting the sale of flavored tobacco products to smoking bars for on-premise consumption. The new restrictions are set to take effect June 1.
"Before the ban goes into effect, I want to ensure that legislators and the public know and understand the dangers that we could now be welcoming: an increase in illicit tobacco trade; giving police officers a reason to detain and engage black smokers in minority communities, many of whom are Black men, to find out where they purchased their menthol cigarettes could lead to encounters that are likely to escalate to the unnecessary use of force and arrests," Teixeira wrote in an op-ed shared with the News Service. "We do not need more of this in our Black communities."
Teixiera's church is part of what's known as the Catholic Church of the Americas.
The bishop said the menthol cigarette ban "is fertile ground to add to the rates of stop-and-search incidents already disproportionately impacting minorities." The U.S. Centers for Disease Control said the majority of African Americans who smoke use menthol cigarettes.
An industry group representing convenience store owners has also been pressing for a one-year delay in the implementation of the new restrictions, but Gov. Charlie Baker this week said he sees no reason why the measures should not take effect as planned.
"I think it should go into effect," the governor said Tuesday. "It was a public health issue at the time and it was particularly important to a number of folks in the public health community and to the Black and Latino Legislative Caucus and the leadership, and we supported it and we signed it and we want to see it go into effect."
The bill that Brady filed at the request of Teixiera was referred Thursday to the Joint Committee on Rules.
By Colin A. Young, State House News Service
(Photo: Getty Images)