Starting Monday, Feb. 9, healthcare and educational institutions in Boston can no longer sell tobacco products, as the ban approved last year by the Boston Public Health Commission’s Board of Health becomes effective. Pharmacies and drug stores, including those located in supermarkets, and stores on college and university campuses must remove tobacco products from their shelves.
«We hope that these extraordinary steps taken by our Board of Health to restrict the sale of tobacco products greatly reduce exposure to tobacco and its harmful effects,» said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the Commission’s executive director. «The evidence is overwhelming: strict tobacco control regulations are effective in saving lives and discouraging people who don’t smoke from picking up the habit.»
The Commission is working with Boston health centers, hospitals, and pharmacists to increase access to smoking cessation resources, such as free patches and counseling, to help residents who want to quit. Studies have shown that as many as three out of every four smokers want to quit but find it difficult.
In December, the Board of Health unanimously approved prohibiting tobacco sales at healthcare and educational institutions; those establishments were given 60 days to comply. The tobacco ban on pharmacies came several years after a group of Dorchester teenagers who call themselves B.O.L.D. Teens began lobbying the Board of Health to remove tobacco products from pharmacies, arguing that health institutions shouldn’t be allowed to sell products that make people sick.
The board also closed loopholes in Boston’s 2002 workplace smoking ban by restricting smoking in outdoor adjacent areas, such as patios and loading docks, and prohibiting smoking in hotels, inns, and bed and breakfasts in Boston. Those changes, which came with increased fines ranging from $200 to $1,000 for violations, went into effect immediately.
Other changes the board immediately adopted were a ban on new smoking bars, such as hookah and cigar bars, and a prohibition on the sale of blunt wraps, a tobacco leaf often used to roll marijuana. Smoking bars currently licensed by the city can operate for 10 years, but no new permits will be issued.
The Commission is making available signage and other materials to establishments affected by the ban to assist them in notifying patrons of the new regulations.