Beginning June 1, smoking and vaping in Falmouth will be further restricted in where and what tobacco products can be sold and by prohibiting smoking and vaping in workplaces and public places, including parks, town beaches and public streets.
The board of health on March 15 voted for the revamped regulations that also include capping the number of tobacco retail permits in town at 35. The regulations state the intent is to gradually reduce the number of tobacco product sales permits in town by denying a permit holder a renewed license if it does not reapply within 60 days of the permit expiration.
The board updated the regulations based on model regulations provided by the state and now mirror state law, Health Agent Scott McGann said.
Smoking or vaping in workplaces and public settings such as parks, playgrounds, beaches, athletic fields and sidewalks will be illegal. The regulations also apply to membership associations and outdoor areas where food or beverages are served to the public by employees of restaurants, bars and taverns.
Businesses in Falmouth will no longer be allowed to sell flavored tobacco products that may be attractive to teenagers and children.
The regulations cite information from the Massachusetts Department of Health that 59 percent of high school smokers have tried flavored cigarettes and cigars, and 95.1 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds who smoke cigars reported smoking cigar brands that are flavored.
Businesses caught selling tobacco illegally will face fines. A first offense will cost a business $1,000. A second violation within 36 months of the first is a $2,000 fine, as well as a suspension of the business’s tobacco product sales permit for seven business days. A $5,000 fine is levied if three or more violations occur, and will also result in a suspension of the tobacco product sales permit for 30 business days.
The fines for smoking in public spaces or the workplace are much less severe. Smokers will be charged $100 for the first violation, $200 for a second violation occurring within two years of the date of the first offense, and $300 for a third or subsequent violation occurring within two years of the second violation.
After discussion at an earlier meeting and hearing from the public, the board decided to forgo an all-out ban on the sale of pods and e-liquid with nicotine content higher than 35 milligrams per milliliter, as Massachusetts state law currently permits. Instead, the board opted to limit sales to adult-only tobacco shops—like CB Perkins on Teaticket Highway—where patrons must be at least 21 years old. Also, the products can no longer be sold in convenience stores.
Falmouth resident and former smoker Eunice Hartman said to the board at the March 1 meeting that she uses the more-potent five-milligram pods for her Juul device, a concentration equivalent to 50 milligrams per milliliter.
“I’m a 40-year smoker who has recently managed to quit through the use of Juul five,” Ms. Hartman said in a comment read aloud by board of health chairwoman Diana Molloy. She told board members she tried to quit several times using a patch or nicotine gum, but the only method that worked was using the Juul with 59 milligrams of nicotine that curbed her cravings enough to quit.
“The remaining smokers today are those who need nicotine replacement options to assist in quitting,” she said.