NECSEMA Launches Campaign Opposing Generational Bans on Tobacco and Nicotine Products

The prohibition of tobacco sales based on birthdate ‘threaten civil liberties,’ association says
Photograph: Shutterstock

The New England Convenience Store and Energy Marketers Association (NECSEMA) this week launched a grassroots campaign to oppose generational bans on tobacco and nicotine products.

The ban of tobacco sales based on birthdate “threaten civil liberties in Massachusetts and, if unopposed, would inevitably lead to local prohibitions on a host of other products, including gambling, alcohol, cannabis, sugary drinks, fatty foods, caffeine and more,” the Stoughton, Massachusetts-based association said.

Alex Weatherall, NECSEMA president, said these policies set a “disturbing precedent by granting authority to local boards of health to unilaterally decide if you’re ‘adult enough’ to buy products that are legal statewide and nationwide. This is the definition of a slippery slope.”

Weatherall said that local officials are imposing their morality on citizens of the Commonwealth.

NECSEMA said it created the advocacy group Citizens for Adult Choice to educate the public about the dangers these local bans pose for law-abiding adults in Massachusetts.

“Follow this trend to its logical extreme and your local morality police could crack down on any product they dislike—lottery, alcohol, sugary drinks, salty snacks, energy drinks, preservatives, you name it,” Weatherall said. “We’re not going to sit quietly and acquiesce to a nanny state.”

The Citizens for Adult Choice website aims to educate elected officials and the general public on the risks of local birthdate-based bans, as well as their lack of effectiveness in curbing smoking habits, NECSEMA said.

“Local governments are crossing a line in banning adults over the age of 21 from buying or using nicotine products,” said Peter Brennan, NECSEMA’s executive director. “If the anti-nicotine zealots have their way, it will remain legal to buy and use every imaginable form of cannabis or to gamble on sports 24/7, yet those same adults can’t buy a cigar for a wedding or a nicotine pouch to relax. It’s time to deliver a reality check to the politicians and local officials and stop these blatant attacks on adult rights.”

In March, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld a law in the Boston suburb of Brookline that bans the sale of tobacco products to anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 2000.

As a result of this upholding, “local boards of health are following suit in other communities, enacting bylaws in little-publicized hearings that forever bar adults from purchasing legal products in their hometowns,” NECSEMA said.

Proponents of generational bans in Brookline and other communities purport to be targeting youth smoking, but NECSEMA said these prohibitions do nothing to address underage smoking as they impact adults only.

“Such bans not only prohibit cigarette sales, but they also ban chewing tobacco, cigars, and even nicotine products used by smokers trying to quit,” NECSEMA said.

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