New Year Could Bring More Smoking Regulations

The Board of Health implemented tobacco regulations in 2015, which included a prohibition on workplace smoking, retail tobacco stores and smoking on playgrounds and athletic fields, as well as hotels and motels, bed and breakfast rooms and places where food is served to the public by employees at restaurants, bars and taverns.

Last week, Schmidt, along with fellow board members Dr. Astrid Weins and Susan Maguire, shared with the Town Council that changes will take place in the town’s smoking regulations to include prohibiting smoking on the beach, and prohibiting smoking in workplaces and public spaces.

“Our proposed changes are to strengthen the regulation,” said Board of Health Chairman Bill Schmidt.

“We’re here tonight as part of our community outreach effort. Our proposed changes are based on our sincere belief that they will benefit the public health,” he added.

The local board was asked by the Tobacco Control Collaborative to consider adding regulations.

The draft regulations provided contains nine changes to the existing regulations – the addition of a “purpose” section; a prohibition on e-cigarettes; prohibition of smoking in membership in association or clubs; no smoking within 25 feet of a municipal building entranceway; prohibition of smoking in smoking bars; prohibit smoking in town-owned parks and beaches; no smoking in nursing homes; no smoking in bus-stop shelter waiting areas and the addition of stronger language preventing smoking in outdoor areas of restaurants, bars, and taverns.

Schmidt pointed out that second-hand smoke continues to be an issue.

“There is no risk-free level of exposure,” Schmidt said.

Councilor Phil Boncore, an ardent cigar user, said he thought they weren’t going to touch the beaches and the parks.

“Now you can’t sit on a bench and have a cigar or a cigarette,” Boncore said.

“Second-hand smoke at any level is harmful,” said Weins, adding that 86 percent of citizens do not smoke. She also noted the littering problem with cigarette butts.

“This is a draft,” Schmidt said, adding smoking is banned at state beaches. The town’s smoking regulations would apply to Yirrell Beach.

“I think you are taking more personal liberties away from people,” Boncore said.

The proposed changes are expected to be voted on in January.

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