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Massachusetts town weighs nation's 1st tobacco ban

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Massachusetts town weighs nation's 1st tobacco ban

By AMY CRAWFORD
Associated Press

spacer.gif

WESTMINSTER, Mass. (AP) -- The cartons of Marlboros, cans of Skoal and packs of Swisher Sweets are hard to miss stacked near the entrance of Vincent's Country Store, but maybe not for much longer: All tobacco products could become contraband if local health officials get their way.

This sleepy central Massachusetts town of 7,700 has become an improbable battleground in America's tobacco wars. On Wednesday, the Board of Health will hear public comment on a proposed regulation that could make Westminster the first municipality in the United States to ban sales of all tobacco products within town lines.

"To my knowledge, it would be the first in the nation to enact a total ban," said Thomas Carr, director of national policy at the American Lung Association. "We commend the town for doing it."

Town health agent Elizabeth Swedberg said a ban seemed like a sensible solution to a vexing problem.

"The tobacco companies are really promoting products to hook young people," she said, pointing to 69-cent bubblegum-flavored cigars, electronic cigarettes and a new form of dissolvable smokeless tobacco that resembles Tic Tac candies. "The board was getting frustrated trying to keep up with this."

Citing a report from the U.S. surgeon general, Swedberg said that if tobacco use continues unabated, 5.6 million American children who are younger than 18 today will die prematurely because of smoking. Change, she said, "has to start somewhere."

Brian Vincent would rather it not start with his family-owned grocery on Main Street. Tobacco products, he said, make up more than 5 percent of sales.

A quarter of his customers purchase tobacco, Vincent said, and while they're there, they often pick up a gallon of milk or one of the fresh-baked maple-candied bacon chocolate chip cookies that are displayed by the check-out aisle.

"It's going to send business five minutes this way or five minutes that way - no one's going to quit," said Vincent, who admits to enjoying a cigar himself now and then.

Encouraged by the New England Convenience Store Association, Vincent has been asking customers to sign a petition against the proposal. He has gathered more than 800 signatures so far, and other merchants are on track to deliver hundreds more to town officials this week.

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."

So many people have called Town Hall about the proposal, the Board of Health - whose meetings about septic system updates and mosquito control rarely attract an audience - will hold Wednesday's public hearing in an elementary school cafeteria rather than in its usual second-floor conference room.

Colleen Conner, who pops into Vincent's nearly every day to pick up a pack of American Spirits, is among those who signed the petition. Should the measure pass, she said, she'll drive 25 miles north to New Hampshire and buy her cigarettes there in bulk.

"When you're a smoker, you'll quit when you're ready, not because someone told you to," she said. "I think it's going to hurt the store - and I love the store."

Swedberg, the town health agent, said the Board of Health hopes that if it enacts the regulation, loyal customers will support local businesses by buying more nontobacco products. And she thinks stores could see another benefit: "For people who are trying to quit, it could be a better place for them to shop, because they wouldn't be confronted with tobacco."

Board members are keeping an open mind and will take public comment into account, Swedberg said. But she remains supportive of the ban and hopes more communities across the country will follow Westminster's example.

It's an admirable goal, said Westminster resident Claudia Kulik, who turned to a hypnotist to quit cigarettes 10 years ago.

Yet even she doubts that making it impossible to buy tobacco products in town would make a difference to a smoker seeking a fix. She once went out in an ice storm for cigarettes.

"I would have gone through hell or high water," she said.

---

AP Tobacco Writer Michael Felberbaum in Richmond, Virginia, contributed to this report.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_TOWN_VS_TOBACCO?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2014-11-09-10-24-21


If more citizens were armed, criminals would think twice about attacking them, Detroit Police Chief James Craig

Florida currently has more concealed-carry permit holders than any other state, with 1,269,021 issued as of May 14, 2014

The liberal elite ... know that the people simply cannot be trusted; that they are incapable of just and fair self-government; that left to their own devices, their society will be racist, sexist, homophobic, and inequitable -- and the liberal elite know how to fix things. They are going to help us live the good and just life, even if they have to lie to us and force us to do it. And they detest those who stand in their way."
- A Nation Of Cowards, by Jeffrey R. Snyder

Tavis Smiley: 'Black People Will Have Lost Ground in Every Single Economic Indicator' Under Obama

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- and the liberal elite know how to fix things. They are going to help us live the good and just life, even if they have to lie to us and force us to do it. And they detest those who stand in their way."
- A Nation Of Cowards, by Jeffrey R. Snyder


If more citizens were armed, criminals would think twice about attacking them, Detroit Police Chief James Craig

Florida currently has more concealed-carry permit holders than any other state, with 1,269,021 issued as of May 14, 2014

The liberal elite ... know that the people simply cannot be trusted; that they are incapable of just and fair self-government; that left to their own devices, their society will be racist, sexist, homophobic, and inequitable -- and the liberal elite know how to fix things. They are going to help us live the good and just life, even if they have to lie to us and force us to do it. And they detest those who stand in their way."
- A Nation Of Cowards, by Jeffrey R. Snyder

Tavis Smiley: 'Black People Will Have Lost Ground in Every Single Economic Indicator' Under Obama

white-privilege.jpg?resize=318%2C318

Democrats>Socialists>Communists - Same goals, different speeds.

#DeplorableLivesMatter

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Massachusetts town weighs nation's 1st tobacco ban

By AMY CRAWFORD

Associated Press

spacer.gif

WESTMINSTER, Mass. (AP) -- The cartons of Marlboros, cans of Skoal and packs of Swisher Sweets are hard to miss stacked near the entrance of Vincent's Country Store, but maybe not for much longer: All tobacco products could become contraband if local health officials get their way.

This sleepy central Massachusetts town of 7,700 has become an improbable battleground in America's tobacco wars. On Wednesday, the Board of Health will hear public comment on a proposed regulation that could make Westminster the first municipality in the United States to ban sales of all tobacco products within town lines.

"To my knowledge, it would be the first in the nation to enact a total ban," said Thomas Carr, director of national policy at the American Lung Association. "We commend the town for doing it."

Town health agent Elizabeth Swedberg said a ban seemed like a sensible solution to a vexing problem.

"The tobacco companies are really promoting products to hook young people," she said, pointing to 69-cent bubblegum-flavored cigars, electronic cigarettes and a new form of dissolvable smokeless tobacco that resembles Tic Tac candies. "The board was getting frustrated trying to keep up with this."

Citing a report from the U.S. surgeon general, Swedberg said that if tobacco use continues unabated, 5.6 million American children who are younger than 18 today will die prematurely because of smoking. Change, she said, "has to start somewhere."

Brian Vincent would rather it not start with his family-owned grocery on Main Street. Tobacco products, he said, make up more than 5 percent of sales.

A quarter of his customers purchase tobacco, Vincent said, and while they're there, they often pick up a gallon of milk or one of the fresh-baked maple-candied bacon chocolate chip cookies that are displayed by the check-out aisle.

"It's going to send business five minutes this way or five minutes that way - no one's going to quit," said Vincent, who admits to enjoying a cigar himself now and then.

Encouraged by the New England Convenience Store Association, Vincent has been asking customers to sign a petition against the proposal. He has gathered more than 800 signatures so far, and other merchants are on track to deliver hundreds more to town officials this week.

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."

So many people have called Town Hall about the proposal, the Board of Health - whose meetings about septic system updates and mosquito control rarely attract an audience - will hold Wednesday's public hearing in an elementary school cafeteria rather than in its usual second-floor conference room.

Colleen Conner, who pops into Vincent's nearly every day to pick up a pack of American Spirits, is among those who signed the petition. Should the measure pass, she said, she'll drive 25 miles north to New Hampshire and buy her cigarettes there in bulk.

"When you're a smoker, you'll quit when you're ready, not because someone told you to," she said. "I think it's going to hurt the store - and I love the store."

Swedberg, the town health agent, said the Board of Health hopes that if it enacts the regulation, loyal customers will support local businesses by buying more nontobacco products. And she thinks stores could see another benefit: "For people who are trying to quit, it could be a better place for them to shop, because they wouldn't be confronted with tobacco."

Board members are keeping an open mind and will take public comment into account, Swedberg said. But she remains supportive of the ban and hopes more communities across the country will follow Westminster's example.

It's an admirable goal, said Westminster resident Claudia Kulik, who turned to a hypnotist to quit cigarettes 10 years ago.

Yet even she doubts that making it impossible to buy tobacco products in town would make a difference to a smoker seeking a fix. She once went out in an ice storm for cigarettes.

"I would have gone through hell or high water," she said.

---

AP Tobacco Writer Michael Felberbaum in Richmond, Virginia, contributed to this report.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_TOWN_VS_TOBACCO?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2014-11-09-10-24-21

More liberal do gooder madness

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apparently some don't realize how much tobacco brings into the state coffers.


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Same here. I am just guessing that the winter prep is over and boredom is setting in.

Perhaps it is the start of a movement . ... 30 years ago if someone said that folks would not be allowed to smoke in a bar and eating establishments you would laugh at them . You drive truck and many companies don't allow smoking in them .today. How did that come about . You drive solo no one is around you and still smoking is forbidden .inside the truck.


If more citizens were armed, criminals would think twice about attacking them, Detroit Police Chief James Craig

Florida currently has more concealed-carry permit holders than any other state, with 1,269,021 issued as of May 14, 2014

The liberal elite ... know that the people simply cannot be trusted; that they are incapable of just and fair self-government; that left to their own devices, their society will be racist, sexist, homophobic, and inequitable -- and the liberal elite know how to fix things. They are going to help us live the good and just life, even if they have to lie to us and force us to do it. And they detest those who stand in their way."
- A Nation Of Cowards, by Jeffrey R. Snyder

Tavis Smiley: 'Black People Will Have Lost Ground in Every Single Economic Indicator' Under Obama

white-privilege.jpg?resize=318%2C318

Democrats>Socialists>Communists - Same goals, different speeds.

#DeplorableLivesMatter

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Perhaps it is the start of a movement . ... 30 years ago if someone said that folks would not be allowed to smoke in a bar and eating establishments you would laugh at them . You drive truck and many companies don't allow smoking in them .today. How did that come about . You drive solo no one is around you and still smoking is forbidden .inside the truck.

Anyone can smoke in their own truck, smoking in a company owned vehicle is a bit different. I wouldn't want to be the guy who has to get in that truck for the night shift after someone has smoked in it all day.

I don't believe that selling tobacco products should be illegal, but I also do not want smoking in public buildings.

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