Tobacco proposal will impact teens in Montague

If passed, town regulations would override state law

MONTAGUE, Mass. (WWLP) – Buying tobacco products in Montague could soon have the same restriction as buying alcohol.
22News spoke with Franklin County residents about a proposal that aims to reduce teen smoking.

Both residents and business owners debated the impact of changing tobacco regulations Wednesday in Turners Falls. The Board of Health is considering a proposal to make 21 the minimum legal age to buy cigarettes in Montague.

“The more we can keep kids safe by not having access to tobacco products or other substances, the better chance they have of not being addicted as an adult,” Kara Mclaughlin of Florence.

If the proposal passes, town regulations would override state law, which allows anyone over 18 to purchase tobacco. The proposal would also expand the definition of tobacco products to include e-cigarettes. “They’re marketing to kids and it’s very obvious. Just a colorful array of temptation,” said Gina McNeely, the Director of Public Health.

Montague business owners fear restricting sales on tobacco and e-cigarettes could hurt sales, which are legal under state law. However, if the proposal passes, they said it’s something they’ll have to learn to deal with.

“Whatever regulations are passed in the town, or any community we operate in, we’re going to be committed to upholding the law as it’s presented to us,” said Ray Cross, of the F.L. Roberts convenience store in Turners Falls.

E-cigarettes are a tobacco free product, although they do contain nicotine, which is known to be addictive.  Montague residents may continue to submit their comments on the proposal to the board of health into January. The board will make a final ruling on January 21st.

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