Adams Moves To Next Step With Tobacco Ban Laws
The remaining Board of Health members picked through proposed legislation and chose the aspect they would want in a local law.
ADAMS, Mass. — The Board of Health has picked what it wants in new tobacco regulation and will now ask the Massachusetts Municipal Association to write a draft bylaw.
Last month, the board was presented with a menu of legislation spanning from the sale of blunt wraps to the opening of hookah bars to required signage for tobacco dealers.
On Tuesday, board members picked through the various options — eliminating some and adding others — for a local law. In the end, the board hopes to implement strong rules in order to reduce smoking in town.
"We will go over them again, fine tune some things. We might change our minds, we might add to it," board member Patricia Clarimont said. "We want to do it right."
The board chose to include smoking bans on public playgrounds, beaches, athletic fields, in nursing homes, at bus stops and outdoor patios at restaurants. Members were undecided about bans on smoking in private clubs, hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts. The board is also further looking into implementing a buffer zone around municipally owned buildings but are unsure of how far the zone would be and have concerns that it would push smokers into the front of private businesses instead.
While the town doesn't currently have problems with smoking in some of those places, such as outdoor patios and nursing homes, the board wanted proactive bans in case future companies open. For the places such as parks and playing fields, the board wants to install no-smoking signs.
"You are drawing a line in the beginning," member Roy Thompson said. "I want to be tough on it."
Also eyed for prohibition is the sale of blunt wraps. The board members said they want to keep those out of stores because they are flavored — thus more appealing to children — and mostly used for illegal drugs.
"I wouldn't see any other reason to buy it," Thompson said.
Electronic cigarettes were previously considered to be banned but after talking with residents, the board reeled back its regulations. Instead, it opted to formalize a restriction on all "nicotine delivery products" from being sold to anyone under the age of 18.
"One can see the arguments for electronic cigarettes," Thompson said. "People do use electronic cigarettes to get off cigarettes. But the youth shouldn't be on cigarettes."
Clarimont added that, "none of this stuff should be sold unless you are 18."
The new draft legislation will also include ban on all tobacco sales at health-care related institutions — like pharmacies — and in educational institutions. However, while given the option to limit the number of tobacco permits that can be issued, the board decided against capping or limiting them. The board also voted against a ban on using coupons for cigarettes because it was not seen to be a problem.
Self-servicing displays, vending machines and commercial "roll your own" machines will also go into the draft even though the town doesn't currently have any. Laws that limit the package size and price of cigars — intended to eliminate the sale of cheap, small cigars — will also go into the draft despite the town not have any of those for sale.
Language will also be added to vendor permits that require all prices to be aligned with state's minimal pricing, that they include signage reminding customers and employees that the sale of products to minors is illegal and that no permit be renewed if there are outstanding fines.
However, the board isn't quite sure what type of fine structure should be instituted for vendors who violate the laws by either selling banned products or selling to minors. The state fines are $100 for the first violation, $200 for a second and a seven day suspension and $300 and a 30-day suspension.
Board members said they wanted to look at what other communities have done for fines before crafting that part of the legislation.
Now the board will send its choices to the MMA, which will craft the legislation at no cost to the town. That draft will then go back to the board for further review and work.
"I don't think we need to do this overnight," Clarimont said, adding that the recent resignation of Chairman Richard Frost has left the board one member short so she wouldn't want to approve a regulation until a new member is elected.
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