Town wants to get tough on tobacco, but ban doesn’t pass muster

AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) – Monday afternoon, Amherst Councilman Steven Sanders introduced a plan he felt would discourage youth from using tobacco.

His resolution specifically aimed to:

  1. Stop the sale of tobacco products to people under the age of 21 years old
  2. Stop the sale of tobacco products within 1,500 feet of a school
  3. Stop the sale of flavored tobacco products
  4. Stop the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies and stores that contain a pharmacy
  5. Stop the use of e-cigarettes anywhere that smoking is currently prohibited

But the town attorney snuffed out the proposal, saying he is not sure a town can legally change the age that someone can purchase tobacco. Before the issue came to a vote, community members from both sides spoke out about tobacco products.

Michael Khan of the Amherst Youth Consortium said, “Young people need a voice and we need to stop influence of tobacco marketing on our young people. The time is now to do something about this and the youth board and the youth resolution today is exactly what we need to curtain youth smoking and the influence of tobacco products on impressionable young people.”

Jim Calvin, president of the NYS Association of Convenience Stores, countered, “It’s a legal product; we should be allowed to sell it. If we’re not allowed to sell it, then what happens is the Indian reservations are allowed to sell it, so it’s still accessible to all of our former customers. It drives business away from our stores. And so it’s counter productive, we believe, for small business, for tax revenue, and for public health.”

Instead of passing the proposal, the Amherst Town Board approved a plan to have two youth groups create an incentive program for area businesses that:

  1. Don’t offer tobacco products for sale
  2. If they do sell tobacco, to use a universal proofing system
  3. Don’t advertise they sell tobacco
  4. Offer programs for employees to stop smoking

Councilman Mark Manna says the new incentive program will be put into place some time this year.

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