ADAMS -- A sweeping set of new tobacco regulations have been approved for the town of Adams.
With little discussion, the Board of Health unanimously passed a the measure on Wednesday. The board had delayed a vote on the proposal following a public hearing last month, but on Wednesday agreed to adopt the new laws as written.
The regulations are set to go into effect on April 1, 2014.
The Board of Health will prohibit the sale of tobacco in pharmacies or stores that contain pharmacies, ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, and limit the sale of a number of other tobacco-related products. The use of e-cigarettes and other tobacco-related products in public spaces, such as town-owned parks and playgrounds, also will be prohibited in Adams.
The board had expected to vote on the regulations directly after last month's public hearing, but decided to hold off after it heard arguments from local store owners that restrictions on cigar sales were unnecessary.
"Most of my customers, 95 percent, buy the single cigars to cut them, take the tobacco out, they put [marijuana] in it," one store owner said Wednesday. "It's not tobacco, it has nothing to do with their health."
The board on Wednesday maintained its original position, mandating that cigars priced under $2.50 be sold in packs of at least four.
The regulations have been nearly a year and a half in the making, according to board Chairwoman Patricia Clairmont.
"We've come close several times," she said after the law was passed. "I feel really good about it."
In its justification for the new laws, the board cited a number of statistics, such as a 2009 study that found 72 percent of high school smokers and 66 percent of middle school smokers were not asked for proof of their age before they purchased tobacco products. Advocates for the law have also claimed that e-cigarettes are marketed toward minors.
Businesses that violate the regulations will be subject to a $100 fine upon first offense, increasing at intervals of $100 for each new offense within 24 months of the first. Businesses that refuse inspections are subject to a 30-day loss of license.
Although store owners made their opposition to parts of the law known at the public hearing, no pharmacy representatives voiced displeasure with the pharmacy ban proposal. Rite Aid and Big Y are the only two stores in Adams currently that the ban would affect.
Member Roy Thompson said Wednesday that the board should reach out to local sports coaches and ask them to remind players of the dangers of smoking.
"[Coaches] have a lot of influence on the young people, and if they explain -- and I'm sure a lot of these guys do -- that it's a bad deal [to use tobacco]," Thompson said. He added that young people are more likely to listen to coaches, who see the kids on a daily basis.
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