The Marion Board of Health has decided to move forward with its idea to cap tobacco sales licenses in town and bring that number down from six to five.
During the November 19 meeting, Health Director Karen Walega said that one of the six current tobacco permit holders has suggested that it would not be seeking a renewal of its permit – the perfect opportunity for the board to reduce the number of permits.
“We’re trying to decrease the amount of stores that sell tobacco products,” said Walega. “We’re doing this because of the kids; we’re not doing this to harm to adults, we’re trying to reduce the number of establishments that kids are buying tobacco products from.”
The Marion Board of Health has been an active board over the past three years as it attempts to restrict access to tobacco and nicotine products. Back in July of this year, the board banned the sale of flavored nicotine and electronic e-cigarette products in Marion. It initiated an even stricter measure to include menthol cigarettes in that flavor ban back in 2016, but abandoned that effort in order to focus its attention on medical and adult-use marijuana regulations.
In light of current events in Massachusetts regarding a tentative ban on flavored nicotine products to include menthol cigarettes, the board recently reignited the discussion about menthol cigarettes and furthering a ban on e-cigarette and vaping products in Marion.
In the meantime, the board will focus on capping tobacco permits, but it is still waiting for feedback from town counsel on how to proceed legally.
“The idea is to get rid of the mom and pop stores you can go into to buy cigarettes,” said Walega. “We’re all trying to help the kids so the kids won’t be exposed to tobacco.”
“From the local point of view, that’s all we’ve got,” said Board of Health member Dot Brown.
“There’s no safe dose of nicotine – zero,” said Chairman John Howard.
The next meeting of the Marion Board of Health will be on December 3 at its new meeting time of 2:00 pm at the Marion Town House.
Marion Board of Health
By Jean Perry