Public Hearing Set for Jan 24 on Tobacco Sales

By Sue Ellen Woodcock

The Board of Health has approved a draft copy of new regulations for the sale of tobacco products and plans to hold a public hearing on them on Jan. 24.

The first regulation calls to raise the age of purchasing tobacco from 18 to 21 in Winthrop. There is currently a push statewide to raise the age to 21.

“Seventy percent of the commonwealth has adopted age 21,” said Dr. Lester Hartman, a Westwood doctor involved in the push. He attended Tuesday night’s meeting.

Other regulations include 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 (the one shop in town that falls within these limits will be grandfathered — any future new owners would not be.); no permits within 500 feet of another tobacco retailer; restrict the sale of flavored tobacco products to adult-only retail tobacco stores.

“The are 107 communities that restrict flavors,” said D. J. Wilson, the tobacco control director for the Massachusetts Municipal Association. “Menthol would not be restricted.”

The regulations would also ban the sale of blunt wraps (often favored by marijuana users); and no sales of tobacco in health-care institutions, including pharmacies. There pricing changes for cigar sales.

Bonny Carroll, director of the Six City Tobacco Initiative, has been working on draft regulations with the Board of Health. If adopted the regulation would contain 22 regulations, 14 that the town of Winthrop already has.

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.

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