The Worcester City Council is scheduled to get a formal request from the city’s health director at its meeting tonight that will call for extending the city’s existing smoking ban to more places while putting limitations on just what kind of tobacco products can be sold.
Health Director Derek Brindisi will present several suggestions to aimed at making it harder for children to have access to tobacco products while reducing the exposure of residents to second-hand smoke, which include a ban on smoking in parks, athletic fields, beaches, swimming areas and public transportation waiting areas. In addition, smoking cessation signage would be required in retail stores, as well as a ban on flavored tobacco products except in retail stores and smoking or hookah bars.
There would also be new restrictions on the use of electronic cigarettes, as they would be banned in smoke-free workplaces and wherever smoking is otherwise prohibited.
Cigars have also been mentioned, as multiple news outlets have reported a proposal that would include a minimum package size for cigars. While the official proposal has yet to be posted online, it would seem that the directive is meant to address small, cheap cigars commonly found in convenience stores and not premium retail cigars.
Finally, the proposal calls for a change to the penalty process for retailers who sell tobacco products to minors, extending the enforcement period to a period of 24 months from the current 12 months, when the enforcement clock “resets.” As it currently stands now, a retailer in violation is fined $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second and $300 for the third and subsequent offenses within 12 months of the first violation.
Worcester is home to just under 183,000 residents.