Adams Health Officials Closer To New Smoking Rules

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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The Board of Health continued looking at the regulations on Wednesday.

ADAMS, Mass. — The Board of Health is inching closer to establishing tougher smoking regulations.

The board took up smoking regulations last year to combat what it sees as an expanding tobacco market — particularly with the growth of popularity with electronic cigarettes, small cigarillos and flavored products.

After then Chairman Richard Frost resigned, the board put the discussion on hold until a new member could join.

On Wednesday, the members again reviewed the work they began with a draft crafted by D.J. Wilson, the tobacco control director for the Massachusetts Municipal Association. With just three questions outstanding, the board hopes to hold a public hearing in the coming months before presenting them for adoption.

The biggest question is banning the sale of tobacco products from health organizations and pharmacies. Member Allen Mendel said he was concerned about implementing a ban because Big Y has a pharmacy and could lose its ability to sell them.

"I am not comfortable with eliminating retail," Mendel said. "Just because Big Y has a pharmacy, they shouldn't be eliminated ... if it was just Rite Aid, that wouldn't be a problem."

Mendel said places like Val's Variety store and other convenience stores also sell health-related products — like cough syrup — and he wouldn't want the ban to extend to them. He said there is too much "gray area" and will contact Wilson for some more information.

Another sticking point is the fine structures. The board wants vendors who violate the new laws to be subject to a $50 fine for the first offense, $100 for a second and $200 for a third in a two-year period. However, that might interfere with state structures. The law allows for the board to do its own compliance checks.

The final outstanding question is a possible ban on blunt wraps because the board wanted to know more about the product before making a decision.

However, board members did agree that they want to implement bans on smoking in town-owned parks, beaches and playgrounds but stopped short of banning smoking from all municipal properties.

Instead, they are looking to implement a 15-foot buffer zone from any municipal building.

The board considered banning smoking from all municipal property but that could include sidewalks, which Mendel said "was going too far."

"Nobody should have to walk through a cloud of smoke to get to the front door of a property," Chairwoman Patricia Clairmont said, later agreeing that 15-feet should be sufficient for somebody to walk around a smoker to access the building.

The board also opted against banning smoking in private clubs, citing that there is only one private club that allows smoking now and it is not a problem.

As for facilities, the board is looking to ban hookah bars, smoke shops and commercial roll-your-own outfits. The town currently does not have any of those but the board wants to be proactive.

"We don't have any of that now but we want to protect ourselves," Clairmont said.

Nursing homes and outdoor seating areas at restaurants are on the list of places the board hopes to ban smoking but motels and hotels are not because those are already regulated at a sufficient level, they said.

The draft ban includes the sale of an array of other tobacco-related products as well.

The board will continue its research and finish the draft at regular meeting. From there, it will schedule a public hearing.

Tags: BOH,   smoking regulations,   

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Adams, Economic Officials Explain 40R Housing Bylaw

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

A petition is asking officials to slow down approval of the zoning amendment until it can be reviewed more fully.
ADAMS, Mass. — Residents remain wary of a proposal to adopt the state's 40R legislation that would provide incentives for reusing old buildings for both the town and developers.
But Tuesday's more than two-hour meeting explaining step by step the statute, the definitions, and how a Smart Growth Overlay District would work seemed to temper some of the controversy. 
"None of us will leave until we have every question at least answered," said Town Administrator Jay Green to the well-attended gathering at the Visitors Center. "You may not like the answer. You may not agree with it, but we're going to answer the question for you."
The town's consideration of the 15-year-old Chapter 40R caused an uproar over the past couple months as many residents believed it referred to public or low-income housing. A number of posts on Facebook detailed problems with area public housing developments that are not 40R and expressed worry that the town would become a magnet for low-income housing. 
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