Westminster’s Proposed Tobacco Ban Meeting Does Not Go To Plan

The forum was abruptly shut down over protests.

There’s a reason why we saw photos of Michael Douglas and Patrick Swayze smoking cigarettes while receiving cancer treatment: It’s one of the most addictive and hardest to quit drugs of them all. So when Westminster, Mass., a small town of 7,000 people, first decided to put a tobacco sales ban to a vote, it seemed like a great place to start this kind of discussion. If there are no tobacco products to buy, then children and teens won’t buy them because they can’t get to the next town as easily as an adult can. How could they? Most are too young to drive and those with licenses may not have a car.

And yet, it seems like the adults in Westminster do not agree with my logic.

WCVB reported that at Wednesday evening’s Board of Health meeting, the crowd felt that the ban would limit their freedom; they think it’s a rights issue (it’s not). You can still buy your cigarettes in the next town over, and you can still smoke inside town limits—you just can’t buy the disgusting chemical-filled papers inside town lines.

Fewer cigarettes means less litter, a reduction in second—and third—hand smoke, and overall could improve the town’s public health. After all, there’s nothing worse than being downwind from a smoker on the sidewalk. But, alas, the only thing missing from the meeting was pitchforks. (Although I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some residents outside with those, too.)

“Our main focus on developing these regulations is the children in our community,” said one member of the three person group that makes up the town’s Board of Health.

WCVB was there live for the meeting, where some angry residents were carried out by security. The crowd also started a spontaneous singing of God Bless America.

“When you try to take away people’s rights to consume legal products, they’re going to get fired up,” said one member of the irked crowd.

The town could be the first in the nation to impose such a ban, but after last night’s fiasco, the board has decided to keep all future meetings closed. The vote will take place “sometime after December 1.”

After all of the hysterics, my guess is the hostile townsfolk went outside to relax—by lighting up.