The Franklin, Mass. Board of Health voted on Tuesday night to keep the minimum age to purchase tobacco at 18 for the immediate future, rejecting a proposal that would have upped it to 19 in the town of nearly 33,000 residents.
Ironically, it was a statement from the doctor who has been leading a statewide campaign to get cities and towns to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco that ended up being one of the key factors in the three-member panel’s decision.
Dr. Lester Hartman, the pediatrician who has been leading the age increase campaign, told the board that the increase to 19 would do little if anything to reduce smoking by teenagers. He wants to see the age raised to 21 throughout Massachusetts, saying that a greater age gap between teenagers and those legally able to buy them reduces the possibility of the latter buying them for the former, according to a report on MilfordDailyNews.com.
The issue is not dead however, and will be reevaluated at the board’s next meeting on February 4. If it is adopted at that time, it would likely go into effect in early April.
In addition to the age increase, the board is also considering significant changes to their tobacco policy, including banning the sale of blunt wraps, single cigars under $2.50, and packs of four cigars under $4. Also included in the proposal are bans on self-service displays of tobacco products and roll-your-own cigarette machines.
Private membership clubs are also in the crosshairs of the sweeping reforms, as the board could vote to outlaw smoking in those establishments. They are also looking at the creation of a local tobacco permit, something the town has never had.