WESTMINSTER, Mass. (AP) — The cartons of Marlboros, cans of Skoal and packs of Swisher Sweets are hard to miss stacked near the entrance of Vincent’s Country Store, but maybe not for much longer: All tobacco products could become contraband if local health officials get their way.
This sleepy central Massachusetts town of 7,700 has become an improbable battleground in America’s tobacco wars. On Wednesday, the Board of Health will hear public comment on a proposed regulation that could make Westminster the first municipality in the United States to ban sales of all tobacco products within town lines.
“To my knowledge, it would be the first in the nation to enact a total ban,” said Thomas Carr, director of national policy at the American Lung Association. “We commend the town for doing it.”
Town health agent Elizabeth Swedberg said a ban seemed like a sensible solution to a vexing problem.