Board of Health Looks at More Smoking Regs

The Board of Health’s smoking regulation increasing the age of purchasing tobacco to 21 went into effect on June 1, and now the board is fine-tuning additional smoking regulations.

On Tuesday night during its regular board meeting members proposed regulations that may affect smoking on public beaches and bus shelters with covers and waiting areas. There is also a proposal to ban smoking from within 50 feet of any municipal building entrance.

Chairman Bill Schmidt said the regulations will also pertain to the use of e-cigarettes or any material that can be vaped.

The board, including new member Astrid Weins, plans on holding a public hearing on any further changes in the workplace smoking regulations in the near future.

Also attending the meeting were Bonny Carroll, director of the Six City Tobacco Initiative, D.J. Wilson of the Massachusetts Municipal Association and Edgar Duran of the Metro Boston Tobacco Free Community Partnership. Together they help draft smoking regulations for cities and towns.

When asked how the workplace smoking laws and potential marijuana laws would fit in, Wilson said marijuana falls under the definition of combustibles and smoking would not be permitted in certain areas.

“You cannot light up a joint in a restaurant or a workplace,” Wilson said, initially the law was only to cover clove and herbal cigarettes.”

Much of the discussion continued about smoking bars and hookah bars. A smoking bar has a special permit from the state Department of Revere proving it derives 51 percent of its income from tobacco. There are none in Winthrop. But Winthrop does have is a hookah bar that can only allow smoking outside.

“As far as we can tell it remains the only restaurant in the state that allow smoking inside,” Wilson said, adding the business has been in place for the last 10 years.

This establishment has been fined on several occasions.

“I think we’re trying to discourage smoking and I think if we were to allow smoking bars I think it just contradicts everything,” said Board member Susan Maguire.

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