Board of Health Looks at Upping Buying Age

By Sue Ellen Woodcock

The Board of Health continues to discuss steps toward raising the tobacco buying age to 21 and Tuesday night they went over the regulations that would have to be changed to adopt the Tobacco 21 program being considered and passed by numerous cities and towns in the Commonwealth.

Bonny Carroll, director of the Six City Tobacco Initiative, is working on draft regulations for the Board of Health.

Tobacco 21 program, a town by town statewide effort to raise the age of purchasing tobacco to 21. Revere is one of the communities that has raised the tobacco buying age to 21.

“One of the issues of raising the age to 21 is that you can be 18 to enter the military, but you are not able to buy tobacco,” Carroll said. “These regulations are the ones implemented when smoking in the workplace was banned.”

If adopted the regulation would contain 22 regulations, 14 that the town of Winthrop already has. In considering a tobacco policy, Winthrop would need to adopt new regulations, such as raising the buying age to 21; not renewing tobacco sale permits if there have been three illegal sales to minors; tobacco permits could not be issued to any business within 500 feet of a school; no permits within 500 feet of another tobacco retailer; limit flavored tobacco products to adult only retail tobacco stores; ban the sale of blunt wraps (often used by marijuana users); and no sales of tobacco in health-care institutions, including pharmacies. There was also discussion about pricing for cigar sales.

Right now Winthrop has 19 tobacco permit holders in town, one being a pharmacy. One additional permits does exist at this time. Each permit costs the shop owner $200. Carroll said “vape stores” are popping up everywhere and a permit would be required to open one. Carroll is the person who investigates tobacco violations in stores and restaurants. She said she does two compliance checks at each place twice a year.

Board of Health member Susan Maguire said as they go forward there will be more discussion and a public hearing.

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