Regulations Ready for Public Hearing Jan 23

Thursday, January 11, 2018
By Transcript Staff

By Sue Ellen Woodcock

The Board of Health approved draft regulations to raise the age of purchasing tobacco products from 18 to 21. There is currently a push statewide to raise the age to 21.  A public hearing will be scheduled for Jan. 23, but already, this issue has brought lobbyists and special interest groups to the Board of Health to express their opinions on everything from business impacts to smoking and vaping. Now the Board of Health intends on attending next Tuesday’s Town Council meeting to share the draft regulations, and then make a presentation at an upcoming School Committee meeting.

“Seventy percent of the Commonwealth has adopted age 21,” said Dr. Lester Hartman, a Westwood doctor involved in the Tobacco 21 program. Attending the Board of Health meeting Tuesday night were Dennis Lane, the owner of a 7-Eleven in Quincy, and the head of the Coalition for Responsible Retailing, which falls on the side of opposing the change to 21. “Selling to minors is suicide. We see ourselves as gatekeepers,” said Lane, who added that 40 percent of his sales are for tobacco, and he can’t risk selling to minors to lose that regular business. He added that 60 percent of his milk buyers also buy cigarettes. Lane also cited the other things allowed at 18 years of age …military service, purchase a lottery ticket and vote. He said everyone in his store has to show an identification. Four Winthrop shop owners attended the meeting but did not speak. 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 regulations would also ban the sale of blunt wraps (often used 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 in place. Right now Winthrop has 19 tobacco permit holders in town, one being a pharmacy. One additional permit to be issued 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 that she does two compliance checks at each place twice a year.

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