New smoking rules in effect July 1 in Amherst

  • Amherst Town Hall

Staff Writer
Monday, June 28, 2021

AMHERST — Smoking will be prohibited in all hotel and motel rooms in Amherst, along with inns and bed and breakfasts, and in vehicles used for ride-sharing services, beginning July 1.

The Board of Health voted 5-0 at its June 10 meeting to revise the regulation “Prohibiting Smoking and Vaping in Workplaces and Public Places.”

The regulation also adds town-owned commons, playgrounds, parks, recreation areas, athletic fields and swimming areas as places where smoking is not allowed, and makes e-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems “prohibited wherever smoking is prohibited.”

Health Director Emma Dragon said her only concern with the regulation relates to the prohibition of smoking within 20 feet of outdoor dining. Due to the expansion of outdoor dining onto sidewalks during the COVID-19 pandemic, some private areas where people smoke may be too close to areas where people are eating meals.

This includes an area near the Craig’s Place homeless shelter at the Unitarian Universalist Society on North Pleasant Street, with smoking being allowed on the plaza even though it is near restaurants and a food cart.

Smoking at outdoor restaurant patios was banned 11 years ago, and also within 20 feet of municipal buildings.

The revised regulation also bans smoking and vaping “in designated waiting areas for public transportation services” and in ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft, when the vehicles are being used to transport customers.

This marks the first time the regulation has been amended since April 2010 and maintains penalties of $100 for the first violation, $200 for a second violation occurring within two years of the first offense and $300 for a third or subsequent violation.

Smoking bars, which have previously been allowed, also will be banned entirely. There are currently no smoking or hookah bars in town.

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