Harwich Board of Health Recommends Raising Tobacco Purchase Age

HARWICH – Officials in Harwich are looking to make it more difficult for young smokers to get their hands on a pack of cigarettes.

The town’s board of health has agreed to a proposal which seeks raise the minimum legal age to purchase tobacco from 18 to 21 years old. The regulation would affect all tobacco products sold in town and is designed to reduce the use of the dangerous material amongst teens.

The decision comes after months of consideration public comment, and discussion between the board of health and retailers in the community. The final draft is also far more limited than some of the other options that they had been considering which included an outright ban on blunt-wrapped cigars and flavored tobacco products.

Those provisions came with the support of Barnstable County’s Health and Environmental Department’s Cape Cod Tobacco Control Program, but were ultimately rejected in a vote by board members.

 “In the final analysis the board favored a more simplistic approach with just raising the age to 21,” said Paula Champagne, the Public Health Director for The Town of Harwich, “They didn’t want to get into the issue of free enterprise, although they are sympathetic to the different products on the market that lure young people into using tobacco.”

Even with changes less far-reaching than might have been, the plan will still likely face pointed questioning at a public hearing scheduled for next Tuesday, July 11th. The Harwich Board of Health will be notifying all licensed tobacco retailers in town so that they may submit testimony on the proposed age change.

Champagne said that the board of health believes that this resolution is in the best interest of Harwich, “The feeling is that raising the age to 21 and good strong enforcement should bring a major milestone in access of product to the youth.”

 By David Beatty, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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