On November 27, 2019, Massachusetts made history when Governor Charlie Baker signed An Act Modernizing Tobacco Control into law.

This first-in-the-nation tobacco control legislation bans the sale of all flavored tobacco products in Massachusetts, imposes new regulations on the sale of e-cigarettes and vaping devices, and increases access to cessation products for all those looking to quit nicotine for good.

In 2019, nearly 30 percent of high school students in Massachusetts were vaping, half of all high school students said they had tried vaping at least once, and youth use was six times the rate of adult consumption.

Lured in by over 8,000 flavors, from mint and menthol to cotton candy and fruit medley, generations of young people who would have never touched a cigarette were suddenly hooked on a new line of dangerous and addictive products.

Up against an industry that has always sought to protect profits over all else, passing this bill required help from our local schools, health advocates, parents, and most importantly, students.

Specifically, a group of students from Holbrook Middle-High School helped lead the charge to protect their generation from nicotine addiction. On numerous occasions, they were part of student-led rallies, press conferences, and were constantly talking to the press and other elected officials to pass this legislation. Without the hard work of the Holbrook students, and without the hard work from other young people like the students at the John D. O’Bryant School in Roxbury, we would not have been able to pass this bill.

Also, I must thank my legislative partner, Representative Danielle Gregoire, for her tireless work in getting this legislation to the Governor’s desk. And a huge thank you to our advocates at the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, Tobacco Free Mass, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, and others who helped us every step of the way.

I remember seeing what cigarettes did to my generation, and to my parents’ generation before that. Today, I am proud to say, that with this legislation, we are protecting our children and grandchildren from that same fate.

John Keenan