Town in Massachusetts considers banning all tobacco sales

250px-Westminster,_Massachusetts
Westminster, Massachusetts

A tiny town in Massachusetts — Westminster — is proposing to ban all tobacco sales. The city is holding a public hearing on this proposal this week. If Westminster does this, it will be the first town in the U.S. to actually ban tobacco sales.

A local store owner is asking people to sign a petition against it, saying that tobacco sales make up about 5 percent of his retail sales.

From the Christian Science Monitor article:

“It’s going to send business five minutes this way or five minutes that way — no one’s going to quit,” said Brian Vincent, who admits to enjoying a cigar himself now and then.

He has gathered more than 800 signatures and other stores owners claim they will present the town’s health board with petitions with several hundred more signatures.

Of course, Altria (Philip Morris) has chimed in

From the article:

David Sutton, a spokesman for Richmond, Virginia-based Altria Group Inc., owner of the nation’s biggest cigarette maker, Philip Morris USA, called the proposal a “bad policy” that will harm local employers.

“We believe businesses should be able to choose which products they carry,” Sutton said. “If the ban were to be implemented, adult tobacco and e-vapor consumers could shift their purchases to neighboring stores. The proposed regulations, if enacted, would fundamentally alter these businesses and would likely cost Westminster jobs.”

I will guarantee that if the town goes ahead with the ban, Altria and R.J. Reynolds will likely file suit, or at least assist any grocers’ association lawsuit.

I have mixed feelings about the proposal. Of course, I’m totally against tobacco, but these sorts of punitive measures usually don’t serve a lot of purpose in the long run, I think. Like someone said, it will just force smokers to drive a few minutes out of their way to another town. Education is more effective, I think.

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