Westminster, Massachusetts, Withdraws Bid to Ban Tobacco Sales After Public Outcry

Board of health voted 2-1 at meeting to drop the first-in-the-nation proposal

At Vincent's Country Store in Westminster, Massachusetts, cigarettes and other tobacco products line the shelves.

They will stay that way after the three-person town Board of Health voted 2 to 1 against a proposal banning all tobacco products after major opposition at a public hearing last week.

"The whole idea of the ban was the most ridiculous thought anyone has ever heard of," said one Westminster resident named Mary.

Hundreds became upset last Wednesday after the Board of Health Chair, Andrea Crete, put an abrupt end to the meeting after only three public comments for what she called cheering and speaking out of turn.

Crete was eventually escorted out by police.

The proposal, if it had passed, would have been a first-in-the-nation ban on the sale of tobacco products.

Anti-tobacco advocates who came to the public hearing meeting saw it a different way, but most in the small town, including some business owners, saw it as town government gone too far.

"I think it's too much too much liberty taken away, how far can you go," said Terry Aubie.

"It's not something that is good for me, but I don't necessarily feel a government organization, a local organization such as the Board of Health should restrict an individuals right that they can choose on the constitution," resident Brian West said.

Board members Ed Simoncini and Peter Munro voted to kill the proposal. Board chairwoman Andrea Crete voted to keep it under consideration.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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