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Massachusetts Town Drops Tobacco Sales Ban After Outrage

The Westminster board of health withdrew its controversial proposal Wednesday after outrage from residents.

Health officials in a Massachusetts town voted Wednesday to withdraw a proposal that would have made it the first in the nation to ban all tobacco sales.

Westminster's board of health voted 2-1 at its regular meeting to drop the proposal, a week after rowdy opposition led them to end a public hearing early. Board member Ed Simoncini, joined by fellow member Peter Munro, moved and voted to kill the proposal. Board chairwoman Andrea Crete voted to keep it under consideration.

The board had initially said the ban would help keep a variety of tobacco products from young people, but businesses strongly opposed it. "The town is not in favor of the proposal, and therefore I am not in favor of the proposal," Simoncini said in making the motion, according to the Sentinel & Enterprise of Fitchburg. A town meeting last month was cancelled after opponents shouted down the board.

After the motion passed, Simoncini thank the town's residents for their participation in the process, the newspaper reported. "You made the difference," he said. "It didn't go as smoothly as we would have liked, but thank you."


— The Associated Press