The Town of Amherst should be credited for at least attempting to tackle the issue of controlling smoking in a modern age in which the proliferation of vapor shops and electronic cigarettes is reshaping the landscape.
A Town Board member proposed a series of changes designed to discourage young people from smoking. Council Member Steven D. Sanders’ intentions in proposing the resolution were good, but the town should not have to go it alone. The state should take the lead.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened. As a result, municipalities are left to make their own rules. Hence, the Town Board considered several items, the most controversial involving whether to raise the legal age for buying tobacco products to 21, up from 18.
The board voted down that provision and decided not to go with several others, including: banning tobacco products in stores that have a pharmacy; prohibiting the sale of tobacco products within 1,500 feet of a school; forbidding the sale of flavored tobacco products and eliminating the use of e-cigarettes anywhere that smoking is banned.
Amherst would have been the first local community to impose such strict rules in an effort to deter young people from taking up the habit. Sanders made it clear that the effort was not meant to stop adults from smoking, but to stop the next generation of smokers from becoming addicted to tobacco products.
Anything that helps prevent young people from developing as dangerous a habit as smoking is worth trying.
Sanders’ concern should be applauded, but this is too important a matter to be left to an individual city, town or village. The state and federal governments should tackle the issues.