After 2 1/2 years, the Board of Health can see an end to the process of developing new smoking bylaws.
ADAMS, Mass. — Two and a half years after the Board of Health first identified shortfalls in the town's tobacco laws, new policies are now just months away.
The laws range from outright bans on some nictotine products to simply asking stores to post signage saying they won't sell to minors.
The process started in 2011, when electronic cigarettes first began to find their way into the county, Northern Berkshire Tobacco-Free Community Partnership Project Coordinator Joan Rubel presented the board an array of new products that had little regulation.
The board felt it needed to draft new bylaws. But board members later decided since the items weren't being sold in town, they wouldn't start regulating them.
However, in 2012, then Selectmen Chairman Arthur "Skip" Harrington asked the board to craft the laws and in the last year and a half, the bylaw considerations unfolded into a complete rewrite of the town's policies.
During that process, Chairman Richard Frost resigned and the board put the work on hold until another member joined. After Allen Mendel was elected, the board took the bylaws back up for consideration.
On Wednesday, the board picked through the most updated draft laws and had only one outstanding question — the definition of non-residential "roll your own" machines. The laws are intended to ban a commercial outfit from coming to town and selling cigarettes at a lower price with the use of "roll your own machines" (which have popped up in convenience stores in other parts of the country).
Mendel said he wanted that definition to clearly state that the town's ban is strictly on commercial usage of those machines and not on home use.
The draft will now be sent to Town Counsel Edmund St. John III for review while Mendel looks into new wording for the definition in hopes that by the Nov. 6 meeting the board can cast the final, approving vote and set a public hearing.
The laws include bans on smoking in smoking bars (such as a hookah bar) town-owned parks, athletic fields and playgrounds, on public transportation, within 15 feet of a municipal building entrance and on outdoor spaces where food is served. Those bans include the use of electronic cigarettes.
The laws also include dealers of any nicotine delivery product — a term eyed to cover all types products from cigarettes to electronic cigarettes to even nicotine items not yet invented — post signage saying the products can't be sold to minors and apply for permits through the Board of Health. There are fines built in for violations.
There are also bans on any sale of blunt wraps, packages with less than 20 cigarettes, self-service vending machines or self-service displays and sale of the products in pharmacies or educational facilities — also with built-in fines for violations.
While the board agrees some of the bans aren't necessary at this point, the goal was to be proactive to prevent such businesses as a hookah bar from opening in town.