Orange BOH mulling proposed changes to tobacco, nicotine regs

  • A booklet on how to quit smoking that is available outside the Orange Board of Health office in the Orange Armory. Recorder Staff/Domenic Poli

  • Recorder Staff/Domenic PoliA sign prohibiting smoking at the Orange Armory.

  • Domenic Poli/Recorder

Recorder Staff
Thursday, May 04, 2017

ORANGE — The Board of Health is considering changes to its tobacco regulations as a way to make it more difficult for young people to get their hands on products deemed harmful.

The proposed changes include language referencing the tobacco industry’s marketing tactics aimed at enticing young people to smoke and a ban on the sale of flavored inhalant products, except for inside smoking bars and adult-only retail tobacco stores.

Health Director Andrea Crete said a vote on the changes is possible at the next meeting, slated for June 6.

Several definitions are included in the proposed changes. The town defines a constituent as “any ingredient, substance, chemical or compound, other than tobacco, water or reconstituted tobacco sheet, that is added by the manufacturer to a tobacco product during the processing, manufacturing or packaging of the tobacco product.” A flavored tobacco product is defined as “any tobacco product or component part thereof that contains a constituent that has or produces a characterizing flavor.”

A new regulation would require any owner or other person in charge of a place used to sell tobacco products to post signs provided by the Orange Board of Health that states referral information about smoking cessation.

Proposed changes to the regulations’ statement of purpose include language citing evidence regarding the harm tobacco use can cause to young people. According to one statement, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has concluded that nicotine is as addictive as cocaine or heroin and the Surgeon General found that nicotine exposure during adolescence — a crucial period for brain development — can have lasting adverse consequences.

The proposed changes also state more than 80 percent of all adult smokers begin smoking before the age of 18, more than 90 percent do so before they are 20 years old, and more than 3.5 million middle and high school students smoke. Another statement claims 5.8 percent of the state’s young people use e-cigarettes and 15.9 percent have tried them.

The Board of Health members are Jane Peirce, Elizabeth Bouchard and Patricia Pierson.

These proposed changes by the board members come as the result of a dedicated fight to make smoking and vaping less appealing to youth.

The board met with selectmen in early August to discuss the town’s tobacco sales regulations.

At that meeting, selectmen Walter Herk and Richard Sheridan said they do not advocate smoking, but they disliked aspects of Orange’s existing tobacco regulations.

The regulations prohibit anyone from selling or distributing tobacco or nicotine delivery products at retail establishments within Orange without first obtaining a Tobacco and Nicotine Delivery Product Sales Permit issued annually by the Orange Board of Health. The town does limit the number of tobacco sales permits to 12 permits.

Herk, who has since stepped down from the Selectboard, and Sheridan said they see the limits as unfair to businesses. Herk said he would rather the town allow more permits and curb youth tobacco usage by hitting businesses with heavy fines if they sell tobacco to minors.

Sheridan said he quit smoking in 1990, but tobacco is a legal product throughout the United States and limiting its sales could hurt local businesses. He said it would only make it more difficult for adults to get tobacco because they would have to travel to neighboring towns for it.

You can reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 258.
On Twitter: @DomenicPoli