Board of Health suggests mandatory education for retail owners

Mar 20, 2019

After a number of allegedly unintentional tobacco violations in Wareham, Board of Health suggested implementing for retail owners mandatory education on prohibited nicotine delivery products.

On Tuesday night five local shops went before the Board of Health for violations involving tobacco sales. Some of them were guilty of selling banned flavored cigars, cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, and chewing tobacco.

Health Agent Robert Ethier noted that violations might not be intentional since it is difficult for retail owners to memorize 38-page-long tobacco flavor-restricted list issued by Massachusetts Association of Health Boards.

"We know the laws, but even for us it is hard to know all the products that are prohibited," said Ethier.

Etheir noted that reminding retail owners about the list of banned products is imperative to prevent further violations.

"We have got to educate people because [the violations] are going to keep happening," said Etheir. "I don't think that anyone would purposely have [banned products] on the shelf and then pay $300 fine for them."

Health Agent Amy Wiegandt suggested that an effective way of reaching out to retail owners would be sending them “a list of what the banned products are" and also distributing "the list on our website.”

Robert Collett, director of the Cape Cod Regional Tobacco Control Program agreed that retail owners need to be reminded about the rules of legal selling.

"The overriding factor here is that whoever is given the privilege of selling nicotine or tobacco products in any given town, should be well-educated on what the rules are within that town and within that state Massachusetts,” said Collett. “The state of Massachusetts has been very progressive to its approach to tobacco control. When you have a widespread violation, it indicates somewhat of undergraduate when selling products and it is not acceptable.”