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Health Board Takes No Action on Cigarette Ban Request

The Board of Health decided at its April 9 meeting to take no action to ban the sale of tobacco products at pharmacies – a request made last month by the Central Massachusetts Tobacco Free Community Partnership, a group based at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester.

"I don't think it's any of our business to get involved in that," board member Kenneth Evans said. There is no proof that such a ban would lead to a decrease in the number of children who take up smoking, he added. Board member Leonard Izzo noted that the state has not demonstrated clearly what it is doing to stop the sale of tobacco products to minors.

Chairman Gerald Hennessy said he spoke to the managers of several pharmacies in town, with one telling him that cigarettes account for between 25 percent and 35 percent of its sales. "We don't know how close their profitability is," Evans said, noting that the ban could cause some pharmacies to close and people to lose their jobs. "Another point is," Evans added, "Where do we stop?" Food items could be next, he said. Health Agent Paul Mazzuchelli said some advocacy groups are talking about banning food with high sugar or high fat content.

"It's really not a public health issue. It's more of a philosophy," Mazzuchelli said, noting that the board strives to minimize the sale of tobacco products to minors in Milford. He suggested having the Central Massachusetts Tobacco Free Community Partnership take on the task of visiting each pharmacy and ask that it stop selling cigarettes. Evans suggested the group also check on whether a pharmacy is violating the ban on tobacco sales to minors.

The board took no formal vote on the issue. "Right now, it's on hold until I can come up with some more info for you," Mazzuchelli told board members.




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