LETTER: Framingham Board of Health Ordinance Is Not Business-Friendly

FRAMINGHAM – Let me preface this long letter with this … I know Smoking is bad. I can understand how people think vaping is bad. This post isn’t about the health risks of smoking/vaping.

Now, with that being said…

Last week the Board of Health had a 2nd reading on a new ordinance/law. Because of the vaping “epidemic” in our school system, they proposed a new ordinance that would prevent vaping products and MENTHOL cigarettes from being sold in any store unless it was an “Over 21” store. Currently, there are 4 stores that are licensed for “Over 21”.

There are now almost 70 stores that can sell tobacco products.

Why is this terrible?

Because in other places where they enacted this ordinance, stores have closed. People running into a gas station to get some gas and a pack of butts, and maybe some milk will no longer do that. They will go somewhere else. They will not make a “special” trip to get cigarettes in 1 place, and other things in another place.

Somerville is currently being sued because they have done exactly what Framingham has just done.

At the Board of Health meeting, the opposition to the ordinance far outnumbered the people that were for it. But that didn’t seem to matter.

Here’s my problem. These kids getting their hands on vaping products sure as hell aren’t getting them from these stores. They can’t be. If they were, you would see multiple violations during the sting operations. The kids are getting this stuff from older siblings, parents, strangers …who knows. But they aren’t going into a gas station in droves and buying vape products.
But yet, here we are, punishing people (like myself (Full disclosure, I smoke Menthol)) for something children are doing. Sorry not sorry, that’s not something I can stand by and do nothing about. 

And I’m not alone. I have it on good authority that the owners of these 70 gas stations/convenience stores are banding together, and are consulting with a lawyer.

Look, I get that there’s a vaping problem in the schools. I’ve actually spoken about it at meetings, as well as the staggering numbers associated with youths and ALCOHOL. But why oh why aren’t we holding the children AND THEIR PARENTS accountable for this situation? Why will I need to now go to Ashland or Natick to get my cigarettes?

Framingham is supposed to be business friendly. We brag about it all the time, but yet we keep putting up roadblocks.

This ordinance will put people out of business.

Good, upstanding members of our business community will now pay the ultimate price. Pack up your stuff and leave.

If you don’t understand how much leverage/power the Board of Health has, maybe now you do. And maybe we should all pay a little more attention to their agenda items.

Three people having this much power should have some checks and balances with it.

Please, if you want to have a discussion about this with me, I’m happy to have one.

But anything along the lines of “You shouldn’t smoke anyway” will be met with deafening silence from me.

It’s legal for me to smoke, and it’s my choice. 

Bill Lynch

District 7

Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

Susan Petroni Framingham Source Editor Email: editor@FraminghamSource.com Phone: 508-315-7176

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