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Gill OKs smoking, tobacco regs

GILL — The Board of Health accepted two new sets of regulations restricting the sale and use of tobacco and other nicotine products on Tuesday, to take effect June 1.

Gill is the latest county town to pass some form of the regulations, based on templates originating with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Tobacco Control Program.

Mary Kersell of the Substance and Tobacco Prevention Partnership of Franklin and Hampshire Counties has been working to present model regulations developed at the state level to the health departments of the partnership’s member towns and tailor the regulations to individual communities since early last year.

Gill’s version of the sales regulations cap tobacco sales permits at three.

Board member Randy Crochier said the town currently has one active permit, for the Mobil gas station convenience store on the French King Highway.

Retail sale of cheap cigars — those costing less than $2.50 apiece — is limited to packages of four or more.

“The rationale for that is to keep the price high, because a big deterrent for youth is price,” Kersell said.

Also banned are blunt wraps, which are tobacco leaf tubes sold hollow to be stuffed with smokable substances, often marijuana.

The regulations also ban tobacco or non-medical nicotine sales by any establishment with a health care component, including pharmacies, drug stores, or grocery stores containing pharmacies or drug stores.

Kersell said some of the regulations might seem a little over the top for a small community like Gill, which has no such stores, but the measures provide preemptive protection.

The second set of regulations govern smoking in the workplace and public places.

Kersell said the aim is to protect workers, and the regulations include language closing exemptions for private clubs in the existing state law. The regulations ban smoking on town-owned playgrounds, swimming areas, athletic fields and within 20 feet of the entrances to public buildings.

Smoking is also banned in private clubs or membership organizations, such as the Schuetzen Verein, as well as in the town’s lone bed and breakfast.

Crochier said the board received no responses to two newspaper announcements. Language that might have prevented smoking on the golf course, and which member Ed Galipault said might have raised opposition, was clarified.

Kersell said e-cigarettes are subject to all the same restrictions as regular cigarettes in the regulations, although this may change if the Food and Drug Administration rules they are legitimate smoking-cessation aids.

Buckland, Wendell, Montague and most recently Shelburne have already passed sales or sales and use regulations based on the templates.

The partnership includes 11 Franklin County towns: Greenfield, Montague, Wendell, Deerfield, Sunderland, Shelburne, Buckland, Whately, Gill, Heath and Leverett.

You can reach Chris Curtis at:
ccurtis@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 257

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