By Amaris Castillo
DRACUT -- The Board of Health last Thursday voted 3-0 to approve proposed changes to regulations governing the sales of tobacco and vaping products, including limited the sale of such products to those 21 and over.
The changes came out of a growing concern in town over the use of electronic cigarettes by young people.
"I'm very happy for the town of Dracut and for the students," Health Agent David Ouellette said on Monday. "We'll be working very closely from this point on all the vaping products being removed. We're going to be starting education in the classrooms on the dangers of vaping, and to not even start."
The approved changes to the board's tobacco control regulations include:
- Prohibit the sale of tobacco and vaping products to persons under age 21. Ouellette said the board decided to have this go into effect on Dec. 15.
- Mandate that retailers require a government-issued photographic identification card be presented by all persons appearing under the age of 40 who wish to purchase tobacco products.
- Prohibit the sale of any flavored tobacco and vaping products, except in adult-only retail tobacco stores -- such as smoke shops and vape shops -- where no one under the age of 21 is permitted entry. According to Ouellette, those businesses that currently carry such products and are not adult-only retail tobacco stores must clear their shelves of the products by March 1, 2019.
- Prohibit new tobacco sales permit holders from locating within 500 feet of a school.
According to Superintendent of Schools Steven Stone, vaping is an issue in every school system that he's been in contact with.
"There is a lot of nicotine (in them), which is addictive," Stone said recently.
He added that there's a common misconception among youth that vaping isn't harmful to them.
Dracut Public Schools last Wednesday co-sponsored a special presentation on vaping with the Board of Health and the Greater Lowell Health Alliance. At the event held at Dracut High School Learning Commons, registered nurses attending UMass Lowell spoke on vaping, products associated with it and health consequences.