Town of 7K Considers US' First Tobacco Ban

If the measure passes, it will be the first of its kind in the country
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 10, 2014 2:31 AM CST
Small Massachusetts Town Considers Outlawing Tobacco
John Cormier smokes a cigarette on Main Street in Westminster, Mass., on Nov. 6, 2014.   (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

The otherwise quiet town of Westminster in the heart of Massachusetts is causing quite a stir as it considers becoming the first in the country to outright prohibit the sale of all tobacco. But while town health agent Elizabeth Swedberg says a ban in the town of 7,700 makes sense—"tobacco companies are really promoting products to hook young people," she says—others argue that prohibition is just going to send smokers from buying at local businesses to the next closest towns, reports the AP. "It's going to send business five minutes this way or five minutes that way—no one's going to quit," the owner of one shop says.

In fact, he's managed to get more than 800 signatures on a petition against the proposal, prompting the town's board of health to host a public hearing this week. They've even moved the hearing from its usual second-floor conference room to an elementary school cafeteria in anticipation of the turnout. One Westminster resident who quit smoking 10 years ago says that while she finds the measure commendable, she doesn't see it making a difference for those already hooked. She once braved an ice storm for a pack. "I would have gone through hell or high water," she says. (More tobacco stories.)

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