Amherst health board seeks to move menthol smokes to adult-only stores

Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 05, 2019

AMHERST — Restricting mint and menthol tobacco products to adult-only stores, and limiting vaping products to these same businesses are among revisions being considered by the Board of Health to its regulations last updated four years ago.

The health board will hold a public hearing Nov. 14 at 5:30 p.m. at the Pole Room at the Bangs Community Center, 70 Boltwood Walk, to get feedback on the proposed changes.

Other adjustments being contemplated include updating the definition of an adult-only retail tobacco store and capping the number of these establishments allowed in town.

The board last voted to change the “Regulations of the Amherst Board of Health Restricting the Sale of Tobacco Products” in May 2015, with new rules that went into effect in August 2015, most notably raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco products in Amherst to 21.

Revisions at that time also gave the town the power to regulate any non-regulated nicotine delivery system in the same way as tobacco, set a minimum price of $5 for packs containing two or more cigars and banned the the sale of flavored tobacco products — including e-juice cartridges used in e-cigarettes — by package stores and convenience stores.

The latest changes being considered appear less dramatic than those being discussed in Northampton, where the Board of Health voted to move forward with a proposal that would limit the sale of all tobacco products in the city to designated smoke shops, removing them from traditional convenience stores beginning July 1, and creating a new cap of 29 permits for tobacconists, or smoke shops.

In 2013, Amherst’s Board of Health prohibited the sale of tobacco at pharmacies, capped the number of stores that can obtain retail tobacco permits at 23 and restricted blunt wraps. Those regulations also set a procedure for retiring permits as they expire, meaning that Amherst will likely continue to have fewer places where tobacco is available.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.