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Heuvelton considers stricter tobacco sale regulations

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HEUVELTON – On June 12 the village will consider adopting new tobacco sale regulations that could be the most progressive in the state.

Thanks to the activism of students in the Heuvelton Leos Club, the village Board of Trustees is specifically looking at whether to require businesses get a license to sell tobacco within the village, in addition to a state tobacco license, and if they should allow only one or two vendors at a time.

“It’s really a thought-provoking issue and it’s something that we really want to look at very seriously,” Mayor Barbara A. Lashua said.

Currently only Stewarts sells tobacco in the village, and the Leos Club has proposed allowing the store to continue sales while restricting future vendors – possibly allowing only one more to set up shop.

“They’re concerned about turning away future businesses,” Reality Check Coordinator Melanie E. Flack said of the Leos Club’s position.

At the May 8 trustees meeting, members of the Leos Club asked for the issue to be considered, and Reality Check provided village trustees with information about the benefits of limiting smoking.

Ms. Flack said she thinks “think it’s great that [the trustees are] taking the month to paw through all the information” before making a decision.”

Mrs. Lashua said she isn’t sure which way the trustees are leaning. “I’ve asked all the board members to read up on all the information,” she said.

If Heuvelton were to take the step of limiting the sale of tobacco products by strictly controlling the number of vendor licenses given out, the village could be in a position of state leadership.

“If they do it, that would be huge,” Leos Club Advisor Nancy J. Lafaver said, calling such a decision “trend-setting.”

Mrs. Lashua said, “It’s certainly an important decision and we’re all looking at it very carefully and considering long term effects on our village.”

She said trustees are weighing business and health concerns and the impact of tobacco advertising on children while thinking about any future regulations.

Ms. Flack said she hopes the village will restrict tobacco sales, and the Leos Club is hopeful too.

After the May meeting, Leos Club members wrote letters to the trustees thanking them for their consideration and telling them about the negative impact tobacco products have had in their lives.

“Sometimes they just don’t listen to kids,” Mrs. Lafaver said, though she said she hopes the trustees will take action on this issue.

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