Pittsfield last updated its smoking policies in 2019. Here’s what the health board wants to change | Berkshires Center
PITTSFIELD — The city’s board of health has drafted amendments to tobacco sales ordinances that would add state language intended to crack down on the sale of flavored tobacco and nicotine products and increase penalties for companies that break the new rules.
The draft policy, unanimously approved by council at its Wednesday meeting, would be the first update to the city’s tobacco sales rules in three years. But they are not yet in force.
The board plans to hold public hearings on the updates they’ve been working on for six months, in partnership with Tri-Town Health Department Director James Wilusz. The Tri-Town Health Department, which serves Lee, Lenox and Stockbridge, runs a regional smoking awareness program.
Here’s what you need to know about the draft policy:
The last updates to Pittsfield’s tobacco sales policy came in January 2019 — about 12 months before the state completed its own overhaul of tobacco sales laws.
The updated state law incorporated language on nicotine vaping and flavored vaping and tobacco products.
The draft submitted by the Board of Health would add state definitions for the terms “tobacco product flavor enhancer” and “electronic nicotine delivery systems.” The second term encompasses electronic cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, pipes as well as vapes and hookahs.
The sale of flavored tobacco products is prohibited. Tobacco retailers are not permitted to sell electronic nicotine delivery products containing more than 35 milligrams of nicotine per millilitre, unless the products are sold in “adult tobacco stores”.
The draft policy also updates the definition of “blunt wraps” to clarify that products sold as “roll-your-own” cigar kits are considered blunt wraps. The new draft maintains the city’s ban on the sale of blunt envelopes.
LEE – Local and state officials are cracking down on what amounts to “black market” sales of flavored tobacco products and flavored e-cigarettes.
The proposed policy would increase the space between any new adult-only tobacco store and its competitors. Any new tobacco store openings in Pittsfield should be located more than 25 feet from existing tobacco sales licensees.
The council plans to increase penalties for companies caught violating the order once it takes effect.
The order separates the offenses into two groups: those that violate state tobacco sales laws and those that violate specific Pittsfield rules.
For violations of state law, the proposed ordinance would punish a first violation of the ordinance by a tobacco licensee or its employees with a $1,000 fine.
If this violation includes selling tobacco to anyone under the age of 21, the board will suspend the company’s tobacco sales license for at least one business day or up to 30 consecutive days.
Additional offenses within three years of the first offense would result in additional fines and license suspensions.
A second violation would result in a $2,000 fine and license suspension for at least seven consecutive business days or up to 30 consecutive business days.
Three or more violations would result in a $5,000 fine and a 30 business day suspension.
For Pittsfield-specific rule violations, the structure of fines and suspensions would remain the same, but the probationary period would be increased from two years to three years.
The council takes a three-step approach to selling tobacco to people under 21. If a business is caught selling tobacco products to underage customers three times in a year, their license will not be renewed by the board in the following license year.