Amherst Board of Health weighing new smoking restrictions

Hampshire County

FILE – In this Sept. 17, 2015 file photo, a smoker holds his cigarette outside Oklahoma County Courthouse in Oklahoma City. A federal health panel wants to widen the number of Americans who get yearly scans for lung cancer, by opening the screening to less-heavy smokers. Lung cancer is the nation’s top cancer killer, causing more than 135,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. Smoking is the chief cause and quitting is the best protection. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

AMHERST (SHNS) – In an effort to curb effects of secondhand smoke, health officials in Amherst are considering tightening local regulations around smoking and vaping in workplaces and public spaces.

The revised regulations, which are set to go to a vote at the board’s May 13 meeting, would ban smoking and vaping in all inn, bed and breakfast, hotel and motel rooms, in vehicles used for ridesharing and in waiting areas for public transportation services. The updated rules specify that e-cigarettes and are not allowed anywhere smoking is prohibited, and would also outlaw smoking clubs, though it’s unclear if this provision will apply to marijuana, according to the Daily Hampshire Gazette. 

A 2018 law that raised the state’s minimum age for buying tobacco products from 18 to 21 banned e-cigarette use in places where state law already prohibits smoking.

Amherst’s existing regulations already ban smoking within enclosed workplaces, in vehicles controlled by an employer or used for business, on outdoor patios where food and beverages are served, within 20 feet of all municipal buildings and in town-owned recreation areas such as playgrounds and swimming pools.

Residents can submit comments on the proposed regulations to Health Director Emma Dragon until April 30 via mail or email. The updated regulation, if approved, will go into effect on July 1.

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