Thursday, November 20

BoH Response to Blog Post

Kevin -
 The Egremont Board of Health is discussing upgrading the town's local tobacco regulations which haven't been upgraded since 2002. Please see the BoH article in the current Egremont newsletter for more information on that.
 The article you posted regarding what the Town of Westminster is doing has nothing to do with what is in the discussion stage here in Egremont. Westminster is proposing to ban the sale of tobacco products in their town. Even though we only issue two tobacco permits in town this has never even been considered by the EBoH for discussion, never mind action.
  What the EBoH is considering regulating is the sale of e-cigarettes, which is an inhaled device that contains nicotine. Currently with no local regulation in place a 12 year old could purchase the product. And product manufacturers cleverly flavor e-cigarettes in flavors like bubble gum and root beer with the intent to appeal to the youth market. So what the EBoH is considering is prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes and all other nicotine delivery products to a minor. REPEAT: not a total ban, just a ban to minors similar to the ban to minors for cigarettes.
 The EBoH is also contemplating raising the age to purchase both tobacco products and nicotine delivery products to the age of 21. They are also discussing whether to prohibit smoking on town owned property (French Park, Transfer Station, etc) or having designated smoking areas on those properties. These and other items are in the discussion stage. If the EBoH proceeds they will hold an informational meeting and then a public hearing.
 The board invites you or anyone else to come to a regularly scheduled meeting or to contact me by phone or email with questions or comments. My work email address is: I would very much appreciate it if you would forward this message to your email group. 

Most respectfully,
Juliette Haas
Egremont Board of Health
(413) 528-0182 x 22

My Response

    Thank you for your kind response and I do understand that there is a difference between what the BoH is proposing and this article which is why I prefaced the article with the statement "because of its similarity". I also provided a link to the minutes of the BoH meeting on October 9th 2014 so people could read it for themselves. I did read the article in the town newsletter which is what alerted me to the fact that the BoH was discussing changes in the tobacco regulation.
     I do have to disagree with a couple of inaccurate statements that were made. One is that e-cigs could be sold to a twelve year old. Any products that contain nicotine are banned from sale to anyone under the age of 18 in this state. Also the statement that Tanglewood has entirely banned smoking on the property seemed misleading. Tanglewood does have designated smoking areas which I use whenever I attend an event. I only point this out to suggest that the smoking ban on town property would be more palatable if isolated smoking areas were provided for those who do smoke.
    I respect that non smokers have the right to not be subjected to second hand smoke and I have always respected that right. However, I feel that smokers have rights as well. The right to do what one chooses with their own body is indisputable. However that choice cannot violate another persons rights. For instance any adult has the right to smoke as long as they don't affect another persons right to be smoke free.
    This brings me to another point. Restricting an adults right to purchase nicotine products until they are 21 is a violation of their right. The law is clear that when a person turns 18 they are adults in the eyes of the law. This does not mean they are suddenly endowed with wisdom but they should be free to experience life on their own terms. To set the age to purchase nicotine products to 21 tells a young adult that they don't really have rights. This act also interferes with a store owners right to sell a legal product to a legal adult. This restricts the storeowners ability to make the profit that pays the bills and supports their lifestyle.
    Your desire to protect young adults from the harmful effects of smoking is noble; however the regulation you propose will not have the desired result. This will only chase business out of Egremont into surrounding towns. Not only will this take away cigarette sales but other products that these smokers would have purchased. I don't have a problem with reasonable regulations; but I do have to speak up when I see an act as unreasonable as this would be.
    In regard to passing this message on to my readers you may post this as a comment on the blog. I have lifted all restrictions on the comment section, however I reserve the option of deleting any comments I find objectionable. If anyone is disrespectful toward you or your comments I assure you the comment will be removed. Contrary to what people may think or have been told I do respect honest discussion of ideas however lively they may be.

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