The Reading Board of Health voted unanimously on Wednesday, March 22 to prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products except in designated tobacco stores. A designated tobacco store is one that would only allow patrons over the age of twenty-one to even enter the store. Concern has been expressed about the way these products seem to be marketed towards minors despite containing high levels of nicotine. Often the products are sold in brightly colored packaging and the flavors that are sold are fruity or very sweet, flavors that would appeal to younger audiences. The belief is that these products help develop nicotine addictions that cause younger people to want to smoke more traditional tobacco products.
At their February 6th meeting the Board heard from residents on the issue at a Public Hearing regarding four different tobacco related regulations that were being considered by the Board. Members of the Reading Coalition Against Substance Abuse spoke in favor of the new regulations sharing about what they called the deceptive marketing practices of the tobacco industry used to entice minors into nicotine addiction. Speaking against the measure at that meeting was the owner of the Reading Quick Stop, sharing about how his business would be affected if the new regulations were to be enacted. According to the owner, the Reading Quick Stop has made significant financial investment in the sales of the products.
The new regulations will take effect on August 1, 2017.