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Arlington board seeks tighter tobacco regulations

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Local health officials are looking to overhaul tobacco sale regulations, including raising the minimum purchasing age to 21 and prohibiting drug stores in town from selling cigarettes. The Board of Health is seeking to raise the minimum age from 18 years old to 19 beginning July 1, and then have it increase in phases until July 2015, when it would reach 21. The changes are being proposed in an effort to reduce smoking at Arlington High School, where about 12 percent of students report they regularly use tobacco products, said Christine Connolly, the town’s director of health and human services. Brookline and Belmont have recently approved similar age increases. In 2003 Needham was the first town in the state to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products. The Board of Health will hold a public hearing on the proposal at 5:30 p.m. April 3 on the first floor of the senior center at 27 Maple St., and Connolly said she expects the board to vote on the proposal that night. Other proposals would prohibit the sale of “blunt wraps,” or prerolled cigar shells, and single cigarettes. The town is also looking to ban all commercial roll-your-own cigarette machines, and prohibit the sale of tobacco products at pharmacies and drug stores. At the same hearing, the Board of Health will also be discussing new requirements to obtain a permit to operate businesses that offer body-health procedures such as acupressure.

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