By John Castle
Reportedly, Conway, Massachusetts is prepared to leapfrog the state’s adoption of Tobacco 21 law by a full seven months.
Having voted unanimously to adopt a Tobacco 21 ordinance in May, the move by the Conway Board of Health is not exactly far-reaching, as there is only one tobacco retailer in the town, that being Baker’s Country Store at 101 River Street. Owner, Helen Baker, hasn’t even noticed any change in sales as a result of the ordinance, marking it as being for the most part more symbolic than practical in any substantial way. Said Baker:
“The [customers] I do sell are to older people. Most people have quit. All my regulars used to smoke. But they don’t smoke anymore. I don’t smoke and never have. [The regulation] doesn’t bother me at all.”
Baker added that she’s pleased by the ordinance, but will be more so once the regulation is established at the state level, saying, “It’s more confusing if it’s town by town.”
According to Virginia Knowlton, a clerk of the Conway Board of Health, the town’s impetus for establishing the Tobacco 21 ordinance appears to have been frustration with state level inaction:
“The state wouldn’t do anything (about raising the purchasing age). That was our sole reason for doing that whole thing – to make sure that our age was up there where we thought it was better.”
The state of Massachusetts did eventually begin moving, with Gov. Charlie Baker finally signing a bill to make the state Tobacco 21 in company with other states such as California, Hawai’i, Maine, and others.