Those under 21 may soon not be able to purchase tobacco products in Canton, and the town may also take the step of banning electronic cigarettes to people of all ages.
Canton’s Board of Health, which has the authority to restrict tobacco and other nicotine products without a further vote from Town Meeting or the board of selectmen, will meet tonight to decide.
The goal of such a step would be to stop young people from buying and using tobacco products and to ban e-cigarettes, according Canton Director of Health John L. Ciccotelli.
“There is virtually no unbiased research out there that gives a straight answer whether they (e-cigarettes) can legitimately be used as tobacco cessation products or not,” Ciccotelli said of e-cigarettes on Monday.
Nicotine patches and gum, which have been shown effective, would be exempted under the regulation, according to Ciccotelli.
A number of communities, including Dover, Arlington, Sharon and Canton, have taken steps to raise the smoking age.
The regulation, if passed this evening, would take effect on Jan. 1, Ciccotelli said. The Board of Health would then conduct a five-year study to see if tobacco use declines among high school and middle school aged Canton residents.
If there is a reduction in tobacco use after five years, the new restrictions will be automatically renewed. If not, they will be discontinued, and the age at which tobacco can be sold in Canton will drop back to 18, Ciccotelli said.
Canton’s Board of Health took on the tobacco age limit after being approached earlier this year by a group of residents advocating against tobacco sales to minors.
“There’s still skepticism on whether this will work or not this could improve the situation for youth in town, but rather than saying no, we’ll test to see,” Ciccotelli said.
The meeting will be held tonight at 7 p.m. at the Canton Town Hall.