Menthol Cigs on Back Burner

It has been quite some time now since the Marion Board of Health has made any progress towards its goal of classifying menthol cigarettes as ‘flavored tobacco,’ but at the April 25 meeting, the board’s intention was to reignite the issue and eventually bring it up with the selectmen.

Back in August 2016, the board discussed draft regulation that would ban menthol cigarettes from Marion along with all other flavored tobacco and nicotine-containing products.

Cheryl Sbarra, senior staff attorney for the Massachusetts Association of Health Boards, told the Board of Health members in August that the tobacco industry would likely sue the Town should they move to ban menthol cigarettes.

The board subsequently received a number of letters form ‘Big Tobacco’ giants such as R.J. Reynolds, warning the Town that they would sue to protect their interests should the Town attempt to do away with menthols.

“I’m not sure where we are at,” said Board of Health Chairman Betsy Dunn. “We were supposed to sit down with the Board of Selectmen and discuss our proposed regulations. All that, I think, was put on the back burner.”

The board will invite Sbarra to return before the board in June to continue forward towards a menthol ban.

In other matters, the board voted unanimously to oppose an Annual Town Meeting article that would allow dogs onto Silvershell Beach. Dogs are currently not allowed.

“They mean to have them on the beach always?” said Dunn. “No way!”

            Health Director Karen Walega called the presence of dogs on the beach a safety hazard.

“It’s a horrible [idea] to have dogs running on the beach in the summertime,” said Walega.

Dunn added, “I’ve seen dogs go right up into the water and do their thing in the water while people are swimming!”

Also during the meeting, the board hopes to pass regulation next month that would ban synthetic marijuana from sale in Marion. The board will have to hold a public hearing before taking a vote to adopt any new regulations banning the synthetic drugs.

The next meeting of the Board of Health is scheduled for May 9 at 4:30 pm at the Marion Town House.

Marion Board of Health

By Jean Perry


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