Belchertown to consider raising tobacco age

Published: 5/2/2016 9:59:16 AM

BELCHERTOWN — The Board of Health will hold a public hearing Monday night to consider raising the town tobacco age from 18 to 21 and restricting smoking on town-owned spaces.

The hearing will take place at 8 p.m. at Lawrence Memorial Hall according to a notice released by the Board of Health Thursday, April 14.

Board of Health Senior Clerk Mary Grenier said tobacco regulations in Belchertown are dated and amended policies in neighboring communities caused the board to take action. Amherst, Southampton, South Hadley, Leverett and Greenfield are among the communities in western Massachusetts that already have raised the minimum age to 21.

“We’ve been noticing other towns,” said Grenier. “It’s time to change. It’s a good idea to look at our regulations after about 20 years.”

The proposed amendments would raise the minimum tobacco age from 18 to 21, include language to encompass electronic cigarettes and vaporizers and ban smoking on town land like the town common and town beach.

Grenier said the Board of Health has not received any phone calls or letters regarding the proposed amendments so she does not expect much conflict at the hearing.

Although Massachusetts state law permits people 18 and older to purchase tobacco, municipal boards of health may raise the age limit in their communities. One hundred cities and towns in Massachusetts have already raised the minimum tobacco age to 21 according to the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation

The Belchertown hearing comes days after the Massachusetts State Senate voted Thursday to raise the minimum age for tobacco purchases from 18 to 21 statewide. If passed, Massachusetts would join Hawaii as the second state in the country to ban tobacco sales to those under 21.

The proposed legislation would regulate the sale and use of electronic cigarettes and prohibit the sale of tobacco products at healthcare facilities including pharmacies, the Gazette reported Friday.

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