Suit Filed over Tobacco Age; Start Date Delayed to Sept 1

By Sue Ellen Woodcock

A Revere convenience store owner has filed an appeal against the city for proposing to implement an age restriction on purchasing tobacco products.

Attorney Lawrence Simeone Jr. has filed an appeal in Suffolk Superior Court on behalf of his client Joseph Prizio and Northgate Partners LLC, owners of Joe’s Market, 338 Squire Road.

The appeal to the Board of Health and the City pertains to a recent Board of Health decision regarding the sale of tobacco products. Joe’s Market sells tobacco products and the newly passed regulation raises the age of purchasing tobacco to 21 in Revere.

The regulation was set to go into effect on July 1 but now because of the appeal it’s been pushed to Sept. 1. The appeal also claims the business will suffer a financial hardship.

The appeal also states that the Board of Health has no authority under City ordinances and Massachusetts law to enact regulations which govern and restrict the sale of tobacco.

The appeal asks for the Board not to adopt the restriction of flavored tobacco product sales in other than adult only retail tobacco stores; the ban on the sale of blunt wraps and the adoption of minimum cigar package size and pricing, as well as certain fines and penalties.

According to the Municipal Tobacco Control Technical Assistance Program, so far 137 communities have raised the purchasing age to 21, including Boston, Chelsea, Malden, Melrose, Saugus and Somerville. The are 77 communities restricting flavored “other tobacco products,” including Boston, Chelsea, Lynnfield, Melrose, Saugus and Somerville. There are 134 communities with minimum pricing standards for cigars, including Boston, Chelsea, Lynnfield, Malden, Melrose, Saugus, Somerville and Winthrop. The area communities that restrict the number of tobacco sales permits include Chelsea, Saugus and Winthrop.

The Board of Health members include Dr. Eric Weil, John Benecchi and Kim Hanton voted for the change in regulation March. The appeal was filed in court on March 28.

Prizio attended all the public hearings held by the Board of Health regarding the tobacco ordinance and he spoke in opposition to several of the regulations. During that time Prizio said there was no sufficient medical data to support raising the age to 21. He also pointed out that the regulations could redirect sales of tobacco products to other communities.

In addition to increasing the age to purchase to 21, the board will require signs for cessation or quitting; the adoption of a minimum cigar package size/pricing; no renewal of permit if three sales are made to minors; cap or reduce the number of permits; no new retailers within 500 feet of a school; ban the sale of blunt wraps; ban non-residential roll-your-own machines; ban tobacco and nicotine delivery products in educational institutions; and raise fines – $300 for each offense with a 30-day suspension for a third offense.

Assistant City Solicitor Dan Doherty is working on the case for the city.

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