Mass. Town Drops Bid to Ban All Tobacco Sales

WESTMINSTER, Mass. — The people have spoken, and tobacco sales will continue in this small Massachusetts town that recently gained national attention. 

In a 2-to-1 vote, the Westminster Board of Health dropped its proposal to ban all tobacco sales — a move that would have been the first in the country. Board members Ed Simoncini and Peter Munro voted to kill the proposal, while board chairwoman Andrea Crete voted to keep it under consideration, according to media reports.

"The town is not in favor of the proposal, and therefore I am not in favor of the proposal," Simoncini said in making a motion to drop it, according to Fitchburg's Sentinel & Enterprise. After the motion passed, he thanked the town's residents for their participation in the process. 

"You made the difference," he said. "It didn't go as smoothly as we would have liked, but thank you."

Opponents have circulated a petition to recall Simoncini and Munro. Crete is not eligible for recall because she's up for re-election in 2015, media reports stated.

The vote to drop the proposal came at the board's regular meeting Wednesday night, one week after a public hearing drew more than a hundred attendees. Sixty residents signed up to speak at last week's public hearing; however, only a handful of people were able to do so before boos and shouts led the board to adjourn the meeting early, as CSNews Online previously reported.

The board had initially said the ban would help keep a variety of tobacco products from young people, but retailers opposed it.

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