NATO Opposes Boston Cigar Regulations

Regulations ban cigars sold in packages of less than five and doubles retailer fines

NATO has submitted a set of comments to the Boston Public Health Commission opposing a regulation that would ban the sale of single cigars and those cigars currently sold in packages of less than five. Although the regulation contains an exemption for tobacco stores, the single-cigar ban would still apply to tobacco stores if the wholesale price of a cigar is less than $2 per cigar or the retail price is less than $2.50 per cigar.

This would cause retailers to lose sales of legal cigar products and simply shift consumer purchasing habits to buying cigar products over the Internet or purchasing cigars from retailers located outside of Boston. In either case, retailers located in Boston will be negatively impacted, even though they have complied with all of the laws and regulations for the sale of tobacco products.

The proposed regulations would also double all of the civil fines on retailers if there is a violation of the regulations. However, the proposed regulation does not include a single finding that there has been an increase in retail violations of existing tobacco regulations. In fact, the FDA compliance inspection results conducted on Boston retailers by the Massachusetts Department of Health demonstrate the exact opposite, since 97% of retailers that were inspected passed the inspection -- including not selling tobacco products to a minor.

NATO has questioned the propriety of a doubling of the retail fines in the absence of any increase in retail violations of current tobacco regulations. Without any justification, this proposed doubling of fines is a punitive measure that has no legal or rational basis.

With the potential negative impact on the sale of legal cigars, and the unjustifiable punitive nature of double civil fines, NATO has requested that the Boston Public Health Commission not adopt these sections of the proposed regulation.

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