Westminster Update…?proposing to ban the sale of all tobacco products and electronic nicotine delivering devices including electronic cigarettes… ?Entire crowd breaks out in “God bless America” as meeting is called due disorderly conduct…?
Entire crowd breaks out in “God bless America” as meeting is called due disorderly conduct.
Watch the videos – Outrage and cries of “freedom” – Entire crowd breaks out in “God Bless America” at the meeting!
Vincent’s Country Store, “We will aggressively begin the BOH recall process after Chairperson Andrea Crete childishly ended the meeting tonight by walking away from a mess SHE created.”
Westminster MA (First Hand Accounts From A Vaper)
November 13, 2014
By Alex Carlson
People Fighting Back?
November 14, 2014?
By Frank Davis?
Read more media coverage…?
Overlawyered -?Chronicling the high cost of our legal system
Westminster, Mass., and the well-tended grass roots of tobacco bans
NOVEMBER 19, 2014
by WALTER OLSON
Townspeople came out loudly and in force to oppose the proposed Westminster, Mass. ban on all tobacco sales, and that has thrown advocates back a bit [New York Times, MassLive, earlier]:
“They’re just taking away everyday freedoms, little by little,” said Nate Johnson, 32, an egg farmer who also works in an auto body shop, as he stood outside the store last week. “This isn’t about tobacco, it’s about control,” he said.
Right he is. And despite the Times reporter’s lifted eyebrow at the notion that “outside groups” are encouraging town officials to go forward with the ban, it’s worth asking how Westminster, Mass., population 7,400, came to have its very own “tobacco control officer.” Do you imagine the townspeople decided to create such a position with local tax funds? If so, read on.
WestminsterSealFor well over a decade the Massachusetts Municipal Association has run something called the Tobacco Control Technical Assistance Program, assisted by grant money from the state Department of Public Health. It does things like campaign for town-by-town hikes in the tobacco purchase age to 21, and town-by-townbans on tobacco sales in drug stores. It will surprise few that it has been in the thick of the Westminster situation.
This article, written for a friendly audience of public health advocates, frankly describes how the MMA project, with assistance from nonprofit and university groups as well as the state of Massachusetts, worked to break down the reluctance of town health boards to venture into restrictions on tobacco sales (scroll to “Roles of the Massachusetts Tobacco Control Program, Local Boards of Health, and Tobacco Control Advocates”);
Local boards were enticed into hiring tobacco control staff by the DPH’s tobacco control grants. As a participant in the process explained, “[L]ocal boards of health looked at it as ‘oh, it’s a grant. Let’s apply for this grant. So now, what do we have to do, now that we’ve got it?’” … The grants dictated that local boards use those community members they had hired as their staff to assist them in enacting and enforcing tobacco control regulations…
The staff paid for with money from outside the town seem to have seen their job as, in part, lobbying the local officials: “We’ve had to work on each individual board [of health] member to get them to come around,” said one.
The account continues with many revealing details of how the outside advisers managed to orchestrate public hearings to minimize critics’ voice, deflect challenges with “we’ll take that under advisement” rather than actual answers, and in the case of particularly intense opposition, “back off for a couple of months” before returning. “Grant-funded regulatory advocates were able to counter all of [opponents’] arguments and tactics.”
In other words, an extra reason for the townspeople of Westminster to be angry is that they have been paying to lobby themselves. And it’s worth knowing exactly how the game plan works, because similar ones have been rolled out to localities in various states not only on “tobacco control” but on “food policy,” environmental bans and other topics. Grass roots? If so, most carefully cultivated in high places.
Nov 19, 2014
Control freaks want to run your life. They call themselves “public servants.”
But whether student council president, environmental bureaucrat or member of Congress, most believe they know how to run your life better than you do.
I admit I was once guilty of this kind of thinking. As a young consumer reporter, I researched what doctors said was bad for us and what products might harm us. Then I demanded that the state pass rules to protect us from those things.
The concept of individual freedom was not yet on my radar screen. I apologize. I was ignorant and arrogant.
But at least I had no real power. I couldn’t force consumers to avoid unhealthy things or pay for certain kinds of health care. I couldn’t force any business to stop selling something. Only government can do that. Only government can use force.
Sadly, government is filled with people just as ignorant and arrogant as I was.
Economist Matthew Mitchell of the Mercatus Center likes to point out that governments impose regulations without acknowledging that the new rules will have unintended consequences.
Bans on smoking in restaurants and bars is one of the control freaks’ favorite campaigns. “A recent Cornell study,” Mitchell says on my show this week, “found that in those areas where they introduced bans on smoking, you saw an increase in accidents related to alcohol. The theory is that people drive longer distances in order to find bars that either have outside seating or are outside the jurisdiction.”
I selfishly like smoking bans. I don’t like breathing others’ smoke. But the majority of us shouldn’t force our preferences on the minority, even if they do things that are dangerous. Smokers ought to be allowed to smoke in some bars, if the bar owners allow it. But today in about half the states, no one may smoke in any bar.
It’s totalitarianism from the health police. If secondhand smoke were dangerous enough to threaten non-smokers, the control freaks would have a point, but it isn’t. It barely has any detectable health effect at all.
Rule-makers always want more. At first, they just asked for bans on TV’s cigarette ads. Then they demanded no-smoking sections in restaurants. Then bans in airplanes, schools, workplaces, entire restaurants. Then bars, too. Now sometimes even apartments and outdoor spaces.
Can’t smokers have some places?
So far, smokers just … take it. But maybe that’s changing. The town of Westminster, Massachusetts, recently held hearings on whether to ban the sale of tobacco products altogether, and 500 angry people showed up.
One said, “I find smoking one of the most disgusting habits anybody could possibly do. On top of that, I find this proposal to be even more of a disgusting thing.” Good for him.
Mitchell warns that “we are accustomed to thinking about the federal government and federal overreach. But a lot of the most intrusive regulations happen at the local level,” as in Westminster.
In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, police charged two pastors and a 90-year-old volunteer with giving food to poor people in public. Florida law declares it illegal to give away food in an outdoor location without providing public toilets. The restrictions were instated in the name of “public health and safety.”
In New Jersey, churches were forced to stop offering Thanksgiving dinners to poor people because they didn’t have “properly licensed commercial kitchens.”
A court threw out a soft drink ban imposed on my city, New York, by then-mayor Bloomberg, but my new control-freak mayor, Bill de Blasio, plans to reinstate the ban.
The rules keep coming. Another New York regulation, banning trans fats in restaurants, led to stringent bans on which foods people were allowed to donate to the hungry. I’d think the poor have bigger problems than trans fats.
Their biggest problem is the same one we all have: too much government.
Raucous hearing on tobacco sales in Westminster halted? NOVEMBER 12, 2014
By Sean P. Murphy | GLOBE STAFF
WESTMINSTER — An unruly public hearing on a proposal to prohibit the sale of tobacco products came to a sudden and rowdy halt Wednesday evening after shouting and clapping opponents to the ban repeatedly refused the chairwoman’s request to come to order.
The ban, proposed by the board of health in this central Massachusetts town, would be the first of its kind in the state, and has led to angry reaction from residents who worry that it will hurt the local economy and allows government too much discretion in controlling private conduct.
“This is about freedom, it’s my body and it’s my choice to smoke.” said Nate Johnson, 32, a Westminster farmer and auto body worker. He was puffing on a cigarette at a rally before the hearing where opponents held signs saying “It’s not about tobacco — it’s about control” and “Smoke ‘em if you got them.”
Emotions flared at the hearing, where 500 people crowded into an elementary school gym. When one resident loudly pronounced himself “disgusted” that the board would make a proposal that infringed on personal choice, the crowd roared with approval.
After several failed attempts to bring the hearing to order, Chairwoman Andrea Crete gaveled the session to an end. As police shadowed Crete out of the building, many in the audience broke out in a verse of “God Bless America.”
“It was going to get out of control,” Crete said later. “We don’t need any riots.”
Andrea Crete, the chairwoman of the Board of Health, talked about why she shut down the hearing early.
The ban would cover sales of products containing tobacco or nicotine, including cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and electronic cigarettes, which use batteries to heat nicotine-laced liquid, producing a vapor that is inhaled.
The proposal, first made public on Oct. 27, touched off an intense reaction from opponents. More than 1,000 of the town’s 7,400 residents signed a petition against the ban.
“This board is making a mockery of this town,” said Kevin West, the man whose remark stoked passions at the meeting.
Brian Vincent, owner of Vincent’s Country Store, said he was concerned about loss of business.
“We need to keep Westminster dollars being spent in Westminster, not going to the next town over,” he said.
The public hearing, originally scheduled for town hall, was moved to Westminster Elementary School to accommodate the crowd. Westminster is a mostly rural town 25 miles north of Worcester.
Crete said the board would accept written comments on the ban until Dec. 1. She said the three-member, elected board would then vote whether to enact the ban, probably at a meeting before the end of the year. She said the public hearing will not be reopened.
Crete, a pubic health official in the town of Hudson and a longtime Westminster resident, said after the hearing that the ban is intended to “save lives and prevent kids from becoming tobacco users.”
The three-member panel had been considering a ban for months and had become increasingly frustrated by tobacco companies’ aggressive marketing and news products, like 69-cent bubble gum-flavored cigars aimed at enticing younger smokers, town health agent Elizabeth “Wibby” Swedberg said in a Globe interview last month.
The ban represents the latest salvo in the decades-old campaign to curb tobacco use, which is linked to lung cancer, heart disease and other ailments. Already, use of tobacco is prohibited in all Massachusetts workplaces, including restaurants and bars. It is also illegal to sell tobacco products to minors, and some communities have banned smoking in public parks.
In Westminster, as in many Massachusetts communities, the local health board regulates tobacco sales and issues permits allowing its sale. The health board’s five-page proposal cites a recent report from the surgeon general that concluded this year alone, nearly 500,000 adults in the country will die prematurely because of smoking.
Vincent said tobacco products account for about 6 percent of his sales, and his concern is not just the loss of those sales, but other items people buy when getting cigarettes, such as a cold drink, a bag of chips, and lottery tickets. He said that while tobacco products may be less than 10 percent of sales in grocery stores, they can account for one-third or more of total sales at convenience stores, industry analyses have shown.
A resident waved a flag at the hearing.
Kay Lazar of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Sean P. Murphy can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @spmurphyboston.
Rally at 4:30 pm with Vincent’s Country Store
Rally Tonight Photo
Westminster, MA Police Department
Today at the Westminster Elementary School from 630pm to 830pm there will be an open meeting on the proposal by the Board of Health for a ban of tobacco sales in Westminster. We are anticipating a large number of attendees for this meeting.
With that we ask a few things. Please park in any areas designated for parking. Please do not park on the grass or any location not specifically designated or specifically posted “no parking”. Do not park in any designated “fire lanes” or in any way to interfere with response from emergency services (Fire and Ambulance).
Parking will be allowed in any of the parking lots and surrounding streets, unless otherwise posted. Parking will be allowed on one side of Academy Hill Road, and Leominster Street. All media outlets planning on attending and reporting on this meeting are asked to park all satellite vehicles on Academy Hill at the Town Common. If any vehicle is found parked in a location that is not designated for parking it will be towed at the owners expense. Lastly, please understand that there are rules to this meeting that are out of our control. We ask that all participants respect and follow these rules in effort to allow as many people as possible to express their opinions in a polite and respectful way, whether they are for or against the proposal. Should any participants act or behave in a manner that violates Massachusetts laws, representatives from the police department who will be in attendance will respond accordingly. We do not anticipate that there will be any issues.
Thanks in advance.
Chief Salvatore Albert Westminster Police Department
No person shall address a meeting of a public body without permission of the chair, and all persons shall, at the request of the chair, be silent. No person shall disrupt the proceedings of a meeting of a public body. If, after clear warning from the chair, a person continues to disrupt the proceedings, the chair may order the person to withdraw from the meeting and if the person does not withdraw, the chair may authorize a constable or other officer to remove the person from the meeting.
Health Department Staff Liaison: Elizabeth (Wibby) Swedberg, Health Agent/Director Phone: 978-874-7409 Fax: 978-874-7460 email@example.com
Rita McConville, Assistant Agent 978-874-7409 firstname.lastname@example.org
Joyce Lucander, Administrative Assistant 978-874-7409 email@example.com
You can send a free fax with http://faxzero.com
Group against proposed smoking ban in Westminster
By Katina Caraganis , kcaraganis @sentinelandenterprise.com
WESTMINSTER — A group of concerned residents presented a petition with more than 1,000 signatures to the Board of Selectmen on Monday night, saying it is against a ban proposed by the Board of Health on sales of all tobacco products in town.
Westminster Tobacco Ban: Massachusetts Town Officials Seek Public Comment On Health Measure Wednesday
November 09 2014
By Dennis Lynch
Westminster, Massachusetts, could become the first town in the country to ban the sale of tobacco products. The town’s Board of Health is to hear what is sure to be impassioned public comment on the potential ban Wednesday. The measure is backed by the town’s health officials but some business owners and tobacco representatives say it’s bad for business.
The vice squad
Town of Westminster tries to squelch the right to make bad decisions
NOVEMBER 03, 2014
By Tom Keane | GLOBE COLUMNIST
LET’S SEE if I’ve got this right: I can now purchase alcohol on Sunday mornings. Pot is about to become legal everywhere. Casino gambling is soon to be just a subway ride from home. But if the town of Westminster has its way, it would be illegal for anyone to buy a cigarette.
So what are we? A nanny state? Libertarians? Or just confused?
Massachusetts used to prohibit alcohol sales on Sunday. Thanks to Governor Mitt Romney, that ban was lifted in 2003, allowing sales at noon (kind of like Nixon in China, it took a teetotaler to kill the blue laws). And a new state law last month further relaxed things, permitting liquor stores to open at 10 a.m. — just in time to make those church services tolerable!
Meanwhile, the pot legalization juggernaut proceeds apace. Recreational use is already allowed in Washington state and Colorado. On Tuesday a voter referendum will likely make it legal in the nation’s capital. And Massachusetts is heading in the same direction. The Bay State decriminalized marijuana in 2008, OK’d medical use in 2012, and a possible referendum in 2016 may well legalize weed completely.
Booze and pot. Two vices call for a third, and that third is gambling. As with liquor during Prohibition and pot even now, gambling used to be flat-out illegal. It was immoral, operators of gambling dens were criminals, and those who frequented them were low-lifes. But then we discovered the fiscal benefits of lotteries — the Massachusetts lottery pulls in $4.9 billion a year. That, in turn, led to the discovery of the economic benefits of casinoswhich — barring an unexpected result in the upcoming election — will lead to three casinos and one slots parlor around the state. Funny, isn’t it, how money trumps morality?
These tales stand in stark contrast to what’s going on in Westminster, a small town (population 7,765) 60 miles northwest of Boston. Its public health commission just drafted regulations making illegal the sale of everything from chewing tobacco, cigarettes, cigars, and even e-cigs. The town appears to be the first in the nation to seek such a ban, and it seems a crazy, over-reaching outlier.
Viewed through one lens, Massachusetts — and the nation — is becoming more libertarian, seemingly conceding that in their personal lives, at least, people should be able to do what they want. The liberalization of laws relating to booze, pot, and gambling would appear proof of that. Yet at the same time — and under the guise of public health — we’ve become ever less tolerant of people making decisions about other matters, particularly tobacco and food.
Westminster’s public health department recites a familiar litany of ills about tobacco, including the diseases it causes and the addictiveness of nicotine. Because the stuff is bad for you, it concludes, it has to be banned. I suspect that many public health officials around the country, far from thinking this foolish, are nodding their heads in excited agreement — in the same way they got excited about New York City’s attempted ban on sugary drinks.
Of course, Westminster’s concerns about tobacco and nicotine apply equally to all of the other vices we now seem willing to tolerate. Liquor has enormous individual health effects and societal impacts (more than 10,000 people are killed annually by drunk drivers). Joints (most of them smoked without filters) deliver the same contaminants to your lungs as tobacco — 33 of them are cancer-causing, according to the American Lung Association. Gambling is as addictive as nicotine for some and pushes up rates of crime, suicides, bankruptcy, and domestic violence. Using Westminster’s logic, why not ban them all?
The answer, simply, is that in a free society, adults have the right to make decisions about themselves — even bad decisions. That’s the nature of liberty. We can arm people with information — sugar causes obesity, tobacco kills, and pot hurts developing brains. We can limit their effects on other people — banning smoking in bars and restaurants, funding gambling addiction programs, and cracking down on drunk drivers. But there is a clear line between those measures and dictating how people live their lives. Westminster’s paternalism may be well-meaning, but it crosses that line. Its proposal deserves to be trashed.
Tom Keane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Health Crusade of Westminster, MA: Ban Tobacco Sales
29 OCTOBER 2014
WRITTEN BY RICK COHEN
When you stumble your way through the haze of tobacco smoke outside your office building’s door, that fog created by smokers not allowed to smoke inside, imagine the difference you might find in Westminster, Massachusetts, soon. That’s because Westminster, a small community of around 7,400 residents in Central Massachusetts, is about to ban tobacco sales anywhere in the community. That’s not “divest town dollars from tobacco companies” or “outlaw smoking inside the office cubicle farm” or as, in some communities, “enact a ban on smoking in public parks”; this is a ban on the sale of all products in the town containing tobacco or nicotine, including cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, and electronic cigarettes—the latter due to the nicotine-infused liquid that creates the cigarettes’ inhalable vapor.
Storeowners are particularly irate and have launched petition drives, charging that the law would drive them out of business and push smokers to adjacent communities to buy their cigs. But for Westminster’s health agent, Elizabeth “Wibby” Swedberg, this is the town’s effort to get ahead of the tobacco industry’s constant creativity in marketing tobacco products, such as 69-cent bubble gum-flavored cigars. By allowing tobacco products to be sold and purchased in Westminster, Swedberg said, “We are permitting products that, if used as directed, 50 percent of people die.”
“This sends a clear message to residents that this is a bad product,” added D.J. Wilson, director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s Tobacco Control Technical Assistance Program.
That argument doesn’t sway Westminster’s small business sector. “Nobody is going to stop smoking because this town decided to ban cigarettes,” Westminster Liquors’ Michael Fratturelli said. “Businesses won’t want to come to this town anymore, and the value of our businesses will go down.” Business owners further argue that though tobacco accounts for 10 percent or less of their sales, people who purchase tobacco products often buy other products when going into local stores, making tobacco a part of nearly one-third of small stores’ sales.
Westminster’s proposed ban on tobacco product sales doesn’t mean that smoking is prohibited in the town. However, other communities much larger than Westminster, though not incorporated as local governments, are aiming to simply ban the use of tobacco products. Syracuse University may be the next large “community” to ban smoking altogether, due to concerns not only about the health of smokers, but about the impacts of secondhand smoke on nonsmokers as well.
According to the 501(c)(4) lobbying group Americans for Nonsmokers Rights, 975 college campuses in the U.S. are totally cigarette-free and 291 even ban the use of e-cigarettes on campus. It may be more difficult for municipalities to enact bans on tobacco use, as colleges can do. ANR reports that over 4,000 municipalities restrict where smoking is allowed; 1,159 ban smoking in non-hospitality locations and sometimes even include restaurants and bars.
Municipalities often ban the sale of tobacco products to minors, but Westminster might be the first in the nation, if it goes ahead, to ban the sale of tobacco products to anyone inside the town limits, whether minor or adult. For all the talk about divestment from tobacco investments, as important as that may be, health regulations aimed at reducing or preventing behaviors that cause as many as 500,000 premature deaths of adults annually may be equally necessary in order to realize measurable health improvements.—Rick Cohen
‘By Any Rational Means’
October 20, 2014?
Westminster, Mass., Board of Health proposes ban on sale of all tobacco products
Published in CSP Daily News
WESTMINSTER, Mass. — The Westminster, Mass., Board of Health is proposing to ban the sale of all tobacco products and electronic nicotine delivering devices including electronic cigarettes, reported the National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO).
A hearing before the Westminster Board of Health on the proposed tobacco sales ban is scheduled for November 12, 2014.
In summary, the draft regulation cites the following medical and legal authorities in support of the ban:
•Health, disease and addiction concerns relating to the effects of tobacco.
•The “normalization” of smoking behavior through the use of e-cigarettes, as well as the possibility of “dual use” of cigarettes and e-cigarettes rather than cessation.
•Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling that the “right to engage in business must yield to the paramount right of government to protect the public health by any rational means.”
•The ability of underage people to access tobacco products despite state laws prohibiting the sale of tobacco products to minors.
•Warning labels on e-cigarettes that concede health issues and that they are not intended to be cessation devices.
•Lab analysis conducted by the FDA showing that e-cigarette “cartridges that were labeled as containing no nicotine actually had low levels of nicotine present.”
If the regulation passes, “all tobacco sales permits and/or nicotine delivery product sales permits shall expire” on the designated date. “No new permits or renewal of existing permits shall occur after this date.”
It also bans tobacco vending machines and states that “no person shall distribute, or cause to be distributed, any free samples of tobacco products.”
Fines include $300 for the first violation; $300 and suspension of board of health-issued permits for seven days for the second violation within 24 months; $300 and suspension of board of health-issued permits for 30n days for three or more violations within 24 months; revocation of board of health-issued permits for further violations.
[Editor’s Note: CSP Daily News does not necessarily endorse the opinions, assertions, conclusions or recommendations of any organization that it covers as news.]