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Framingham Increases Cigarette Purchase Age to 21

The Board of Health established stricter tobacco restrictions these days, increasing the minimal age of purchase to 21 in order to stop teenagers from lighting up.

Framingham was the 40th municipality in the state to lift the minimum age from 18, doctor Lester Hartman, cofounder of the Tobacco 21 campaign, explained, greeting the board in the course of its public hearing.

After several debate and public remarks, the board decided not to prohibit the sale of smoking products in pharmacies or the sale of flavored cigarettes for smokers over 21, or to manage the sale of cigars.

“I believe the 21 is the key here,” board associate David Moore explained, warning that the board was “going down the wrong path” by engaging in other issues.

“I consider you have to be cautious in how you restrain trade in any kind of situation,” he added.

The objective, board members stated, is removing tobacco products out of the hands of children in the schools.

Framingham founded its restrictions on those that Needham, Newton and some other cities and towns have passed, but voted even tougher fines for lawbreakers.

For offering cigarettes to a customer under 21, outlets could get a three-day permit delay and $100 fine for first infringement, a 21-day delay and $300 fine for second infringement and already license withdrawal for the third one.

The board stood down from a rigorous 10-day delay for first-time infringers, partially at the urging of Steve Ryan from the New England Convenience Store Association.

Ryan stated that fee would strike hard, slowly destroying 35 to 40 % of business for a “first slip-up.”

District supervisor Steve Vieira from VERC, which represents the Gulf station in Nobscot, also talked, asking the board not to prohibit flavored smoking products or establish pricing and sale restrictions on cigars for customers above 21.

“Once you are 21, I think, in being a retailer, you are 21,” he explained.

While voting 2-1 not to prohibit the sale of smoking products in pharmacies, board representatives opted to keep the discussion open.

“We are going to return to this subject,” Chairman Mike Hugo vowed, worried that outlets are selling tobacco products in addition to filling medications to make people better.

The new restrictions do reduce the number of tobacco permits in Framingham from 76 to 60 in order to aid the board with enforcement, despite the fact that present permit-holders have grandfathered security.

The new regulations are going to take effect in the coming year, 2015.

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