The Westwood Board of Health would like to invite residents to the February Board of Health meeting to provide feedback on two new proposed tobacco regulations, pertaining to the restriction of Tobacco Sales and to Second-Hand Smoke. A public hearing will be held on Tuesday, February 12, 2013 at 5:00 pm in the large conference room at the Carby Street Municipal Office Building, 50 Carby Street in Westwood. If adopted, these draft regulations will replace the existing regulation entitled, “Regulation Affecting Smoking and the Sale and Distribution of Tobacco in Westwood”.
“The Board is concerned with the ease in which young people can obtain tobacco and nicotine delivery products, such as e-cigarettes. As a result the Board feels these new regulations will help prevent youth from access and becoming addicted to these harmful products,” said Health Director Linda Shea.
Because their bodies and brains are still developing, young people are especially vulnerable to nicotine addiction and nearly 90% of adult smokers started before they were 18 years old. In Massachusetts, and nationally, the use of cigarettes among youth has been decreasing but they are using other products at a higher rate. Tobacco companies make non-cigarette tobacco products, like single cigars and smokeless tobacco, appealing to youth through cheap prices and attractive packaging. These products can get non-smoking youth addicted to nicotine, creating future smokers. Affordability plays a significant role in youth consumption of tobacco products. Prior to this regulation, mini cigars have been available in Westwood for as little as $0.69 each, making them an inexpensive alternative to buying a pack of cigarettes. Policies that make it more difficult to acquire tobacco and nicotine products are an important component of preventing youth access to these products. To combat these statistics, the Board proposes to regulate nicotine delivery products, such as electronic cigarettes and to increase the minimum age to 19 to purchase tobacco and nicotine products.
In Westwood, there is currently no purchase age restriction on products that contain nicotine but not tobacco, like e-cigarettes. While e-cigarette marketers say their product is a healthier alternative to smoking and that they can be used to help smokers quit, e-cigarettes are not approved by the FDA as a tobacco cessation device. The Board of Health proposes to treat e-cigarettes like tobacco products, including requiring retail establishments to obtain a permit to sell them, prohibiting their use in the workplace, and restricting their sale to adults over the age of 19.
Highlights of Westwood’s proposed Regulation Restricting the Sale of Tobacco and Nicotine Delivery Products include the following:
- Increasing the minimum age to purchase tobacco and nicotine delivery products to 19;
- Regulating “nicotine delivery products” including electronic cigarettes;
- Banning the sale of blunt wraps and non-residential Roll-Your-Own machines;
- Prohibiting the sale of single cigars; requiring them to be sold in a package of 4;
- Requiring vendors to put up signs that lists the MA Quitline phone number, and a sign regarding the prohibited usage and sales of e-cigarettes to minors;
- Capping the number of Board of Health vendor permits to 10.
For more information or to review a copy of the draft regulations, please visit the Board of Health website at www.townhall.westwood.ma.us or contact the Westwood Health Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.