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Mass. Convenience Stores To Close Wednesday In Protest Of Proposed Ban On Menthol Cigarettes

In this 2009 file photo, a carton of Newport cigarettes are seen on display at Costco in Mountain View, Calif. (Paul Sakuma/AP)
In this 2009 file photo, a carton of Newport cigarettes are seen on display at Costco in Mountain View, Calif. (Paul Sakuma/AP)

Hundreds of convenience stores plan to close midday on Wednesday as store owners rally to oppose a proposed ban on menthol cigarettes and, organizers said, to "demonstrate the critical role [the stores] play providing vital resources to communities."

Members of the Boston Convenience Store Owners Association and other independent stores across the state — about 1,000 of them in total, organizers said — on Monday will post notices informing customers of the closures. The notices will also explain "the risks associated with such a ban including the failure of proposed bans to prevent minors from accessing and using tobacco, racial inequality, food security, and crime."

The association plans a rally on the steps in front of the State House at noon on Wednesday.

The conversation around banning flavored tobacco and vaping products has put a spotlight on the question of banning menthol cigarettes, and retailers have mounted a campaign that included a rally last week on City Hall Plaza featuring about 100 store owners and a retired federal law enforcement official.

The ways and means committees of both branches are reviewing legislation (H 4089/S 2357) based on a bill originally filed by Sen. John Keenan of Quincy and Rep. Danielle Gregoire of Marlborough to ban the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including mentholated cigarettes.

Legislative leaders have mostly avoided saying whether they view menthol as a flavor that ought to be banned, but public health advocates have argued that a flavor ban would be ineffective if it doesn't address menthols.

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