On Tuesday, the Worcester City Council voted in favor of a variety of new tobacco restrictions including a wider smoking ban and new restrictions for tobacco retailers. While the new rules will need to pass one more city council vote, it seems likely they will become law.
The revised smoking ban will prohibit smoking within 50 feet of any city-owned building, including bus stops, libraries and health care facilities. In addition, smoking will be banned at all city parks and beaches including playgrounds, sports fields and water parks. Fines for violating the smoking ban will increase from $25 to $100, although City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr., who submitted the proposed law, admitted that Worcester doesn’t have the capabilities of actively patrolling for violators.
For cigar smokers, there will likely be two large changes at the retail level.
It will be illegal for any retailer to give away or facilitate the giving away of any free tobacco products, effectively outlawing any in-store contests where cigars are the prize. In addition, “multi-pack” discounts will be prohibited with the new law specifically outlawing “buy-two-get-one-free” promotions, something that could affect how in-store events are done.
Minors will no longer be allowed in any cigar bar and any store with a walk-in humidor or self-service humidor cabinets will either have to lock the humidors, including walk-ins, at all times; or ban minors from entering the store.
Fines for retailers violating any of the new tobacco provisions will be $300.
The new law would also categorize e-cigarettes as tobacco products. Despite the variety of changes, Worcester will keep its minimum age to purchase tobacco products at 18.
The city council is expected to hold a final vote on the measure on Nov. 25.
Worcester is located less than 40 miles west of Boston and has a population of over 180,000 residents.