Smoke shop owner says tobacco regulations hurting business

By Lydia Goerner | Jun 07, 2017
Photo by: Lydia Goerner From left, Wareham Board of Health members Catherine Phinney, Amy Wiegandt, Thomas Gleason and Robert Ethier discuss regulations on the sale of tobacco in town.

The Wareham Board of Health was blasted for its tobacco regulations Wednesday night after a smoke shop owner said those rules are costing him sales.

Louis Bourassa, owner of New England Smoke Shop, who appeared before the board at last month’s meeting to address the same issue, said he is suffering as people seeking tobacco products travel to Bourne instead of his Wareham shop.

Prices in Bourne are lower, with cigar prices as low as 79 cents. In Wareham, the board raised the price of a cigar to a $2.50 minimum in April 2016. In Bourne, two cigars are sold for 99 cents, while the minimum in Wareham is $5 for a two-pack.

“It would be nice if we all had the same rules as local towns,” said Health Board Chair Amy Wiegandt.

Area restaurant and bar owners are also complaining about people going to other towns that have fewer tobacco-related restrictions in place, according to D.J. Wilson, the tobacco control director and public health liaison for the Massachusetts Municipal Association.

To combat this, Wilson suggested retailers write to the Bourne Board of Health and ask them to tighten tobacco regulations to match Wareham’s so they don’t impact local businesses.

Bourassa said since his shop is only a few minutes from tobacco shops in Bourne, “people can drive two minutes down the road and get the same things cheaper.”

The board agreed to write a letter to the Bourne Board of Health asking them to consider changing their regulations, including only allowing sales to those over 21 and creating a minimum pricing structure similar to Wareham’s.

“One of the biggest health hazards is smoking, so we don’t want to make it easier to obtain,” said Thomas Gleason, a doctor on the board.

Writing a letter and talking to the Bourne board was not sufficient for Bourassa, who remained concerned about his business.

“You’re supposed to make decisions in the best interest of this town,” Bourassa told the board, saying that more than half the population in Wareham smoke cigarettes.

Bourassa said he has been fighting the minimum price regulations for more than a year.

State are officials are expected to vote on tobacco regulations this year, according to Bob Collett of the Cape Cod Regional Tobacco Control Program. This vote will concern laws regarding a minimum age to purchase tobacco and minimum pricing for these products. In the meantime, Bourassa said he is threatening legal action against the Board of Health.

Comments (9)
Posted by: Newlyaresident | Jun 08, 2017 06:28

It's bad enough that these guys are going to put New England Smoke out of business, but now they're apparently appointing themselves as the Board of Health for Bourne.

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Jun 08, 2017 07:41

Half the population in Wareham smokes cigarettes?

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Jun 08, 2017 07:53

The BOH needs to be removed, they are out of control power freaks and should not be allowed to harass people and impose arbitrary prices on a lawful product. This is just a start for these ego freaks. They are trying to take away your freedoms and rights as a human. This IS big brother at its worst and this is a particularly nasty bunch no different than ISIS with their want of control of your freedoms.  This crap needs to stop!

Posted by: Swifts_Sheriff | Jun 08, 2017 07:57

“One of the biggest health hazards is smoking, so we don’t want to make it easier to obtain,” said Thomas Gleason, a doctor on the board

Oh that's the funniest things I've heard in a long time. Hey Einstein what about booze ? You going to make that more difficult to get. I think that is a bigger problem in Wareham than tobacco ..



Posted by: Spherebreaker | Jun 08, 2017 08:30

Why are they not concentrating on the price of Opioids, who is selling them and who they are being sold to? Could it be that the pharmacy corporations have this BOH to prescribe the opioids and then use the smoke screen of flavored tobacco regulation nonsense to distract from the damage the opioids cause?  

Posted by: 181mph | Jun 08, 2017 12:20

the pharmacy corporations are the problem shere, along with the dirtbag docs that are handing the crap out, check out this article out,,,

when you have an interest in the rehab facilities you really don't have any reason to stop getting people from getting addicted

Posted by: WantToSeeChange | Jun 08, 2017 13:32

"No different then ISIS"?  What are you talking about sphere?  Bad morning?  I am a smoker and don't think THAT about these people.

Posted by: Andrea Smith | Jun 08, 2017 20:51

I'd love to know the source of information upon which Mr. Bourassa based his claim "that more than half the population in Wareham smoke cigarettes." Does he really believe that statistic? Is that why he opened a smoke shop in Wareham?

Posted by: cranky pants | Jun 08, 2017 23:07

News flash, people die in car crashes daily...

Looks like we better close Wareham Ford, and Robertson's GMC.

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