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Heuvelton will not limit tobacco vendors doing business in the village

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HEUVELTON — The village board rejected a proposal at Wednesday’s meeting by the Leos Club and St. Lawrence County Reality Check to limit the number of businesses allowed to sell tobacco products within the village limits.

Mayor Barbara A. Lashua said she believes the answer to the problem of tobacco addiction is education, not stricter regulation.

“Limiting the availability of tobacco products may not stop people from seeking them in other places, but knowing the consequences of tobacco use may,” she said in a letter explaining the decision.

Reality Check coordinator Melanie E. Flack said she was disappointed by village’s decision and unimpressed with the arguments laid out by the mayor against the proposed law.

Responding to the claim by Mrs. Lashua that a law limiting the number of tobacco permits in the village would be unenforceable, Ms. Flack said, “Heuvelton does not have a police force, and yet they have laws, and still people follow the laws.”

Stewart’s Shop is the only tobacco seller within the village.

The clubs’ proposal would have allowed it to keep operating but would have limited future tobacco sales by other vendors the village.

“Limiting the number of tobacco licenses could restrict the viability of opening a new business in Heuvelton,” Mrs. Lashua said in her letter.

But Ms. Flack said it’s unlikely that Heuvelton would ever see that many stores that sell tobacco move into the village even without the law. And even if they did, she said, “They’re that desperate for businesses?”

“If the adults don’t stand up and care, then the same old thing is going to happen,” Ms. Flack said. “Tobacco [use] is a social norm, so how do we break that? People who are afraid to make laws and do something big are feeding into that.”

Ms. Flack said she and the Heuvelton Leos Club are taking the next several weeks to determine their next step.

“We’re going to keep plugging away,” she said.

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