Hudson BOH approves updated tobacco regulations


Hudson BOH approves updated tobacco regulations
Hudson’s Town Hall is viewed from Pope Hill near downtown. The Board of Health recently approved changed to the tobacco regulations. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)

HUDSON – Proposed changes to the town’s tobacco regulations are moving forward after they were approved by the Board of Health at its Sept. 12 meeting.

The updated regulations were discussed at an Aug. 14 meeting, and after a two-week period for public feedback, the board and tobacco licensees found common ground on some of the changes.

Cheryl Sbarra, the appointed executive director of the Massachusetts Association of Health Boards, noted that the regulations to restrict the sale of tobacco products to people over 21 are in the regulations as well as the required signage to be posted in adult-only retail tobacco stores regarding this topic.

In terms of the section on tobacco product sale permits, the language unique to Hudson was the cap of 21 tobacco product permit holders and the waiting list.

The main issue that many permit holders were concerned about at the Aug. 21 Select Board meeting was whether the license was transferable when the business was sold.

“If someone [who] owns a retail tobacco store wants to sell that store, that person is able to sell that store and the permit would be transferred,” Sbarra said.

The new owner would have to come back to the Board of Health to change the permit holder and would have a 30-day period to request the transfer. Sbarra said the new language is clearer about the fact it can be transferred.

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There was a change that no new applicants could have a retail tobacco store within 500 feet of a school or within 1,000 feet of an existing retailer with a tobacco product sale permit, which was a local regulation change.

The section regarding violations of selling to people under the age of 21 follows the state fining structure of fines of $1,000, $2,000 and $5,000 for the first three violations, respectively. Where the state’s and Hudson’s regulations deviate is the state requires an up to 30-day suspension with one day as the minimum. The BOH approved a three-day suspension.

The second violation holds a suspension of seven consecutive days, and the third can carry a 30-day suspension, said Sbarra.

Chair Michael Delfino said he thinks the regulations are “more clear” for permit holders. Sbarra agreed the change from using the term non-transferable was clearer.

“We did realize that the draft that was initially put out … that had a typo, mistake on our end,” Director of Public Health Lauren Antonelli said.

Antonelli said the ability to transfer the tobacco license was a big concern that came up at both the Aug. 14 meeting and the written testimony from the public.

She added, “We did have that language all along.”

The BOH voted to approve the updated tobacco regulations, which would be implemented on Nov. 1. It also voted to grandfather in Dab Smoke Shop under the old density regulations as it is on the waiting list for a tobacco sales permit.

After the meeting, Tony Buscemi, owner of Buscemi’s Wine and Spirits, voiced his satisfaction with the BOH’s correction of the license transfer language in the regulations. He said it was very good for businesses in town because, without the licenses being transferable, it would hurt the resale value of businesses.

He said, “We’re happy about the way the licenses can go with the businesses.”

Of transferring the licenses, Steve Baggi, owner of Shortstop General at 439 Main St., said without the license going with the business, they would not have the viable option to sell and have to stay with the business.

While Buscemi was glad the fines matched the state level ones, he said it was disappointing to have a three-day suspension versus the one-day suspension per the state law.

“We all train our people very well. The training is ongoing every day. None of us wants to sell to someone underage,” Buscemi said.

He added, “We, the tobacco licensees, were all very pleased with most of the outcome at the BOH meeting.”

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