Address smoking by eliminating demand
To the editor:
While having the best intentions, the Pittsfield Board of Health is following an ineffective path by limiting permits to sell tobacco.
Making someone addicted to smoking drive a few more miles to buy tobacco will not reduce the number of smokers. Consider the federal government's action to reduce the use of oil and improve the air quality. It addressed the mileage requirements and emission standards for cars. It did not limit the number of gas stations.
The increase of smoking age from 18 to 21 is a similar, correct approach. Your article states all the unintended consequences from the permit cap. If the board wants to reduce the number of smokers, it should focus on helping smokers quit their addiction. Prevention by education in the schools works as well for future smokers.
The marketplace will reduce the volume of tobacco sales as users wane and then the number of places selling will come down on its own. Just like the drug problem, trying to control the supply doesn't work. Focus on eliminating the demand and the rest will take care of itself.
Howard Greenhalgh, Richmond