The wise elders of the Massachusetts town of Canton will meet in conclave next Monday the 12th to contemplate how best to reduce the dreadful toll of smoking in their community. The proposed approach includes raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21. In fact, the measure to be voted on is entitled thusly:
Regulation of the Canton Board of Health:Prohibition of the Sale of Tobacco Products to Minors 2013 Revision
And indeed, the proposal does aim to ban the sale of tobacco to those under age 21 in Canton. But lurking in the same bill is insidious section E:
E. Other Prohibited Items: All non-medical use Nicotine Delivery Products including, but not limited to Electronic Cigarettes and Smokeless Tobacco, as defined in this Regulation are prohibited from sale, without exception, in the Town of Canton.
And lest there be any confusion, they spell out their plans in no uncertain terms:
Nicotine Delivery Product: Any manufactured non-medical method, device, or product made wholly or in part of a tobacco substitute or containing nicotine that is expected or intended for human consumption...not including traditional tobacco products as defined in this Regulation, and which has not been prescribed by a physician or other licensed medical personnel who can legally prescribe medication. Nicotine delivery products include, but are not limited to, e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products....
Let us make this crystal clear, as the folks running Canton took pains to do: they propose to ban the safest forms of nicotine delivery e-cigarettes and snus/smokeless tobacco while specifically excluding the most addictive and lethal form of nicotine delivery: cigarettes!
This counterproductive craze seems to be spreading to other small towns now contemplating the same bizarre measures; even the New York City Council will be debating this later this month, although one doubts such an anti-science, anti-health measure would be able to survive here in the Big Apple.
Why would anyone protect cigarette markets at the expense of low-risk nicotine products, which have been used by perhaps millions of smokers to help them quit deadly smoke?, asked ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross. The Canton board is on the threshold of doing exactly that. Hopefully, this perverse reversal of public health oversight will be voted down when the full committee meets. If not, expect a vigorous illicit market in e-cigarettes to spring up, unregulated and untaxed, in that community. I hope we never see the day that anything similar is contemplated in our city.