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