BOSTON – The COVID-19 public health emergency has delayed a lot of things already, and now the industry group that represents convenience stores is asking the Legislature and governor to delay the implementation of restrictions on the sale of flavored tobacco products, including mint and menthol cigarettes.
The state’s law restricting the sale of flavored tobacco products, including mint and menthol cigarettes, to smoking bars for on-premise consumption is set to take effect June 1, but the New England Convenience Stores & Energy Marketers Association pressed Gov. Charlie Baker in a pair of letters this month to use his executive authority to delay the ban for one year.
NECSEMA said convenience stores are doing everything they can to stay in business through the COVID-19 pandemic but that it estimates 200 stores will be permanently closed by the end of May. The group said overall sales are down 30 to 50 percent, gasoline sales are down 60 percent and Lottery sales are down 20 percent.
If those stores have to stop selling menthol cigarettes on June 1, NECSEMA said it will be about 800 stores that close within a month or two.
“I am gravely concerned about the large number of convenience store causalities the impending law, coupled with the Covid-related financial fallout, will have on our industry and the communities they serve,” NECSEMA Executive Director Jonathan Shaer wrote in the organization’s latest letter.
Smoking or vaping may put people into a higher-risk category for COVID-19 and could make infections worse, officials including Attorney General Maura Healey and Massachusetts