Egremont raises minimum age for tobacco sales to 21


EGREMONT — Starting Nov. 15, customers who are younger than 21 will be prohibited from buying cigarettes in the town.

Citing potential health effects, the town's Board of Health recently voted unanimously to raise the minimum age from 18 to 21 years.

"The Board of Health believes the regulation will reduce the number of lifetime smokers," said Juliet Haas, the town's Board of Health agent.

She said the move was based on studies that show that most habitual smokers begin smoking before age 20.

Egremont joins a number of communities, that have voted to raise the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products. In the Berkshires, Lee, Lenox and Stockbridge under the Tri-Town Boards of Health, have raised the age, as well as Williamstown, Pittsfield and North Adams.

Statewide, 130 communities out of the 351 cities and towns have passed similar laws. A similar measure passed in the Senate earlier this year, and had overwhelming support in the House of Representatives, but the legislative calendar ran out.

One local business owner was opposed to the change.

"Well, yes, it's going to impact our business," said Frank Pastier, owner of the Old Egremont Country Store. "It's hard to say exactly what the impact will be, because our customers who are 18, 19, 20 years old don't just buy cigarettes.

"They'll come in here and buy a pack of smokes, and a soda and some chips and a sandwich and they're off," he said. "But that business will go over the line to New York state. I think the problem with these regulations is that the town boards don't think about how they may impact small businessmen."

Haas said the board opted to push the date of implementation until Nov. 15 to lessen the impact to local businesses.

"It isn't our intent to make businesses suffer," she said. "But we have to consider the health of our residents."

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


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