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New England Retailers Launch Campaign to Fight Generational Tobacco Bans

NECSEMA raises concerns over the prohibition of certain civil liberties while allowing access to others.
Logo for the New England Convenience Store & Energy Marketers Association

STOUGHTON, Mass. — The New England Convenience Store and Energy Marketers Association (NECSEMA) launched Citizens for Adult Choice, a grassroots campaign to oppose "generational" bans on tobacco and nicotine products. 

The organization had previously brought a suit to overturn such a ban passed by the town of Brookline, Mass., preventing the sale of tobacco products to anyone born after Jan. 1, 2000. However, earlier this year, the State Supreme Court upheld the regulation, maintaining that state law recognizes the authority of local communities to take steps to limit the sale of harmful products. 

NECSEMA is continuing to explore the possibility of appealing the decision, maintaining that generational bans could threaten civil liberties in Massachusetts, potentially allowing local municipalities to prohibit a host of other products or activities, such as gambling, alcohol, cannabis or sugary drinks. 

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In the meantime, Citizens for Adult Choice will work to educate lawmakers and raise public awareness about the implications of bans on the sale of tobacco and nicotine products to adults, especially as local boards of health are following suit in other communities, enacting bylaws that bar certain adults from purchasing legal products in their hometowns.

"These policies set a disturbing precedent by granting authority to local boards of health to unilaterally decide if you're 'adult enough' to buy products that are legal statewide and nationwide," said Alex Weatherall, NECSEMA president. "This is the definition of a slippery slope. Local officials, most of whom are unelected, are imposing their morality on citizens of the Commonwealth."

Proponents of generational bans in Brookline and other communities purport to be targeting youth smoking, but NECSEMA believes these prohibitions do little to address underage smoking as they primarily target adults. 

Additionally, such bans not only prohibit cigarette sales but can also ban chewing tobacco, cigars and even nicotine products used by smokers trying to quit, the association said.

"Local governments are crossing a line in banning adults over the age of 21 from buying or using nicotine products," said Peter Brennan, NECSEMA's executive director. "If the anti-nicotine zealots have their way, it will remain legal to buy and use every imaginable form of cannabis or to gamble on sports 24/7, yet those same adults can't buy a cigar for a wedding or a nicotine pouch to relax. It's time to deliver a reality check to the politicians and local officials and stop these blatant attacks on adult rights."

NECSEMA represents and promotes the interests of the convenience store and transportation fuel industries across New England by providing its members with legislative and regulatory advocacy on key issues and valued services for all members, including resources, networking, training and educational programs.

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