City-wide tobacco ban proposed in Westminster, Massachusetts

Westminster, Massachusetts, is considering an outright ban of the sale of all tobacco products within city limits. If it goes through then it will be the first city-wide tobacco ban in the United States.

Thomas Carr, of the American Lung Association, said:

“To my knowledge, it would be the first in the nation to enact a total ban. We commend the town for doing it.”

The Winchester Board of Health would be in charge of enforcing the tobacco ban if it foes through. According to the Associated Press, Board of Health member Elizabeth Swedberg said that new tobacco products are coming out faster than the Board can regulate them.

“The tobacco companies are really promoting products to hook young people. The board was getting frustrated trying to keep up with this.”

Swedberg said that there are new products that are specifically targeting children, such as cheap bubblegum-flavored cigars, and flavored electronic cigarettes.

“Change has to start somewhere.”

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This would be the first city-wide tobacco ban in the US.

On the flip side a tobacco ban could possibly ruin the livelihood of some businesses in the area. Brian Vincent, owner of a mom-and-pop convenience store, said that tobacco products account for about five percent of sales, a ban would hurt his business.

“It’s going to send business five minutes this way or five minutes that way — no one’s going to quit.”

As a result, Vincent has set up a petition – which already has around 800 signatures – against the tobacco ban. Obviously, the tobacco industry is supporting him. Dave Sutton, of Phillip Morris, said the proposed tobacco ban is “bad policy.”

“We believe businesses should be able to choose which products they carry. If the ban were to be implemented, adult tobacco and e-vapor consumers could shift their purchases to neighboring stores. The proposed regulations, if enacted, would fundamentally alter these businesses and would likely cost Westminster jobs.”

However, Ms. Swedberg believes that shops may benefit, as people who are trying to quit smoking would be more likely to go out and shop.

“For people who are trying to quit, it could be a better place for them to shop, because they wouldn’t be confronted with tobacco.”

The board is going meet this Wednesday to talk about whether to go ahead with the tobacco ban or not.

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