Saturday, February 14, 2015

Controlling A Killer

Cigarette smoking kills over 440,000 Americans annually

Amherst will soon join a growing list of Massachusetts municipalities that have raised the legal age for purchasing tobacco products from 18 to 21 and yes, that includes the increasingly popular electronic vapor variety (e-cigarettes).

In addition new Board of Health regulations will ban the sale of "blunts" outright, and place tighter restriction on cigars:  no sales of single cigars, with a minimum price of $5 on any package of 2 or more units.

Back in 1999 Amherst was the first community in the state to ban smoking in the workplace.  Being a college town Amherst has more than its share of (dive) bars, which are of course a "workplace".  Thus exploded the "Smoking Ban in Bars War", which raged for an entire year.

Bar owners are not the most genteel of the small business crowd, so they fought the ban with as much tenacity as the Viet Cong.  But once the Board of Health started fining the bars and the Select Board reluctantly agreed to pull liquor licenses, the battle ended.  

These days people forget it was even an issue.  Considering tobacco products kill five times as many Americans annually as alcohol it's about time the legal age was raised to that same standard.

The Board of Health voted at their Thursday meeting to move forward with the new draft regulations and scheduled a public hearing for April 9.  Let's hope it's far more civil than those of 15 years ago.

Probably not looking forward to new stricter regulations


B.B. N.A. said...

Wouldn't 25 be more effective and capture more more lives? Why not prohibit sale all together?

Larry Kelley said...

We do that with heroin, but it still manages to destroy a lot of lives every year.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your consistent efforts on this cause, Larry..

Nicotine is addictive, and addicts suffer withdrawal when that drug (administered by inhaling tobacco smoke or by chewing tobacco leaves) is taken away. So nicotine addicts may need replacement therapy (just as heroin addicts may need methadone) to help wean them from their addiction.

When it comes to harmful, addictive drug dealing and exporting, isn't there a "pot calling the kettle black" situation here in our beloved country?

- YF

Anonymous said...

Speaking of pot, why do we think it's okay to burn those leaves and suck the tar into our lungs? We see rallies in support of that on town common all the time. With public smoking. Please keep ur 2nd hand smoke out of my lungs. What does the surgeon general have to say about pot smoking? Will we see the photos of the black lungs and rotted teeth on weed packs? How bout you pregnant women? Think it's good for the kid? Anyone who thinks pot smoke is safer than cig smoke has never cleaned a pot pipe. That stuff we scrape out when we get desperate and we laughingly call "ganja" is tar. Put that in yer pipe and smoke it. And then there's the smoke from the rolling papers. How good is That for you? I know what you thinking: you don't have to smoke it. But isn't that what most of us do?

Anonymous said...

"But isn't that what most of us do?"

I don't know. Who are you? Clearly a pot smoker I would gather from your description of cleaning your pot pipe.

Anonymous said...

will this apply to smoke shops who sell bongs pipes and such?

Anonymous said...

Pot Fest on our town common attended by numerous children and adolescents, some taken away each year in ambulances. However, it is fine, we allow it. But let's go after tobacco instead. We are such an educated town.

B.B. N.A. said...

Larry, your response does not support stopping sales of cigs to those under 21 in a very restricted geographic zone (town). It actually seems odd to me to promote a black market for cigarettes for those under 21 in Amherst. Folks must realize how well networked this group is in town (see parties, riots, some of the highest density housing on the planet).

There are currently something like 50 (a guess) or so places you can buy cigarettes in town legally under state and town control (which by the way is really near other towns that may not have the same laws).

If you pass this law, the 100-1000 pot/occasional H dealers are certainly going to pick up cigs as a product.

Now if I was 19 and in my dorm and want to buy cigarettes, I used to have to drive all the way into town, and buy a whole pack.

If this law passes, I will be able to just go two doors down in my dorm and while I am buying 4 cigs for 2x the market rate (mom, I need more money for school supplies), I am going to be offered pot and H. Please read that last sentence again.

Welcome to the real world, where black markets only sound good to regulators to shut up those who need to feel good, even if the policy they push for backfires (read, screw others and their lives, I want this). Almost every opportunity to try an new harsh drug for a young person comes from going to your supplier and being offered this new drug. You are designing a system where we will tie cigarettes closer to weed and heroin.

You can call me a nitwit, but remember, it is not my kid you are pushing to a drug dealer for a common smoke, it is countless others. The nitwit will be the one that asked for this and then sees some 19 year old previously preppy girl with a needle hanging out of her arm downtown.

Larry, those under 21 are not allowed to buy booze in Amherst or even nearby and look at the mess you report on constantly. As you pointed out they are not allowed to buy or even have H, but the only place I have ever seen H is in Amherst, on campus.

Prohibition does not work, even in Amherst, unless your only goal is to show your intent.

Anonymous said...

Ed, we know that's you.

Dr. Ed said...

Actually, it wasn't -- not that I fully disagree. One can be in Brattleboro in 40 minutes with Hinsdale, NH just across the bridge, all this will do is require every smoker to have an automobile.

I raise three larger questions.

First, how does the Board of Health -- appointed by the Town Manager whom himself is not elected -- get the authority to become a legislative body? Something like this ought to go though Town Meeting -- Maybe the Board of Health ought to be able to put it on the agenda but that is all.

Why should anyone bother to vote when the decisions are being made by folks you can't vote out of office...

Second, if the BoH is some super-legislative all-powerful regulatory body, they why doesn't it make the zoning law changes necessary to build mofe housing? There is at least as great a health need for that -- and if they can do this, they can do that.

Third, the power to grant a license is the power to regulate and deny a license. Why not impose a mandatory HIV test on all applicants for a gay marriage -- and deny both the marriage and right to act as a married couple in cases where it is found?

After all, preventing the spread of AIDS has got to be there somewhere on the list of things the Board of Health is supposed to be doing...

This is where you go when you sacrifice liberty for "what is good for you" -- and never forgert how the ChiComs ended their Heroin (Opium) problem, or that it worked...

Anonymous said...

Great less freedoms for the people. Just what we need to waste tax dollars on.

Jackie M'Vemba said...

Lol. Yes I've been known to smoke pot. And cigs. From experience, I can tell you both are n/g.

Anonymous said...

The nanny state encroaches yet again.