ADAMS, Mass. — The Board of Health has a few final questions and changes to make to its draft of Tobacco 21 regulations and plans to hold a public hearing in October.
The new regulations provided by Tri-Town Health were reviewed last week to eliminate redundancies already in the Adams regulations. The board also tweaked the draft regulations, and made a list of questions to ask Tri-Town.
"We probably want to mirror this draft copy as much as possible so we can bring some uniformity throughout the county," board member Bruce Shepley said.
Board member Allen Mendel suggested eliminating a regulation that would limit the number of establishments that can sell tobacco because it did not apply to Adams.
"I don’t feel we need that at this point in our town," Mendel said. "I can only think about six stores that are selling tobacco right now."
The board also questioned setbacks in the Tri-Town regulations that state tobacco cannot be sold within 500 feet of a school.
Stores already selling tobacco near schools will still be able to however, the board was unsure what would happen to a permit if a store was sold or moved.
Mendel suggested eliminating the regulation altogether because he felt it would give current stores a total monopoly on tobacco sales. He added that it could deter businesses from moving into town. Also, he said students in town are far under the age to buy tobacco.
Shepley felt the board should keep the regulation because it gives them some control. He noted it is not the board's goal to hurt business but it is their goal to keep children away from tobacco.
"I think there are certain issues this board needs to be aware of, and I think whether it is unpleasant or not unpleasant it is our responsibility," he said. "I am not going to worry if I am impacting a business that may want to come in a sell a product that may not be in the best interest of the town."
He added that there are plenty of other places in town where a new business can come in and sell tobacco and a business that purely relies on tobacco sales is not sustainable.
The board also decided to change the severity of punishment for employees who violate the regulations and sell to people under the age of 21.
Tri-Town regulations state that after the first offense the employee is fined and suspended.
"I would not want to do that because some of these places sometimes only have one person in there," Shepley said. "If someone gets suspended that could put a business out of business."
The board decided to only suspend after a subsequent offense.
Shepley said he will contact Tri-Town so they can answer the board’s questions. After that, he will finalize the document so it adheres to what the board wants in Adams. Then legal counsel will review it.
The board hopes to have the document finalized for an October public hearing.
"If people have a lot of input at the public hearing we can table the vote and digest it a bit, but if no one is there we can vote on it that night," Shepley said.
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