FITCHBURG, Mass. — The number of Massachusetts towns that have enacted flavored tobacco bans stands at 43, but maybe not for long.
At its meeting on May 5, the Fitchburg Board of Health will discuss amending where consumers can purchase flavored tobacco products in the city. A measure on the table would limit their sale to adult-only establishments, according to the Telegram & Gazette.
If this move goes into effect, convenience stores, gas stations, mini-marts and other retail outlets would no longer be able to sell flavored tobacco or nicotine products that are kept on the backbar. The restriction would affect roughly 50 businesses in Fitchburg, the report stated, noting it would not place additional restrictions on other tobacco products including menthol products.
Fitchburg is one of the first of 34 communities in the state's Boards of Health Tobacco Control Alliance considering the restriction. Another alliance community Winchendon is holding a hearing on the issue May 1, and alliance community Townsend is slated to meet on the issue May 9.
In addition, the Worcester City Council and Board of Health are holding a joint meeting May 10 to consider the restriction and additional measures, including increasing the age to purchase tobacco to 21, the news outlet reported.
Worcester is heading up the effort with the support of the Worcester Regional Tobacco Control Collaborative, a collaboration of 19 boards of health in Central Massachusetts, hosted by the Worcester Division of Public Health.
According to the Telegram & Gazette report, the Worcester Board of Health asked public health officials to prepare a comprehensive policy document outlining the tobacco regulations already in place in the city, and potential options to address areas where they feel more controls may be needed.
As of mid-April, 43 municipalities in Massachusetts had flavor bans in place. Plus, 117 municipalities have adopted 21 as the minimum legal age to buy tobacco, prompting Thomas Briant, executive director of the National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO), to call Massachusetts a "hotbed" when it comes to tobacco legislation at the 2016 NATO Show, as CSNews Online previously reported.