May 14, 2018

City councilor to request delay on flavored tobacco regulations

Photo/Grant Welker
Worcester City Hall

A Worcester city councilor is now asking city officials to hold off on implementation of Board of Health regulations that would restrict the sale of flavored tobacco products to adult-only establishments.

Morris Bergman, in a proposed motion first heard Tuesday, is requesting the council to ask the Board of Health to delay the restrictions, which the council approved last month.

"While the Worcester City Council supports efforts to curb the use of flavored tobacco products by our youth, the Board of Health's well intentioned previous action will do little to stop youth under the age of 21 from purchasing and/or using these products," the motion reads.

The item was held at the council's Tuesday meeting.

The motion would also request City Manager Ed Augustus, the Board of Health, and Commissioner of Public Health Matilde Castiel to meet with the New England Convenience Store and Energy Marketers Association to discuss alternative ways to prevent tobacco use in people under 21.

The approved regulations were met with significant opposition at the meeting and from some business groups, including the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce.

A total of 266 convenience stores would be affected by the regulations, which would result in millions of dollars in lost revenue, according to a letter to the city last month from Stuart Loosemore, general counsel and director of government affairs and public policy at the Chamber.

"This translates to real money and real loss for these businesses, and further impacts their ability to hire and/or reinvest back into their properties," Loosemore wrote.

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