Online Program

A Proposed Municipal Ban on the Sale of Tobacco: Lessons Learned and End Game Implications

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Jennifer Robertson, J.D., Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Boston, MA
issue: When presented with a model regulation outlining strategies aimed at countering industry tactics, the Westminster Massachusetts board of health decided they had enough, and proposed banning the sale of all tobacco products. They believed that sly industry marketing tactics aimed at initiating and continuing addiction could cost citizens their health and life, and endanger the health of others.

description: Massachusetts’ municipalities are often at the forefront of many tobacco control issues – from banning the sale of tobacco in pharmacies to prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco products – towns in Massachusetts have never shied away from the increasingly present industry lobbyists when the health of their residents is at stake. The decision of the Westminster board of health to consider a complete ban on the sale of tobacco was not one taken lightly, or without advisement on less extreme policies. This session will outline the events leading up to the consideration of this policy, through the hearing process and lessons learned from these events as they relate to the tobacco endgame.

recommendations: Banning the sale of tobacco should still be considered a viable option on the path to an endgame, provided the entity considering this policy option is prepared to face the extreme scrutiny and potential legal challenges faced by the Westminster board of health.

lessons learned: As the first in the nation to consider such a policy at a public hearing, this case study presents a host of lessons learned – from collaboration between partners to the importance of consistent messaging to media response in the face of opposition – all which will be important to consider in any endgame strategy.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Identify lessons learned from one community’s attempt to ban the sale of all tobacco products Evaluate the feasibility of a ban on the sale of tobacco products or classes of products as an endgames strategy Describe effective media plans and counter-messaging as it relates to this and other end game strategies

Keyword(s): Tobacco Control, Public Health Policy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a policy analyst at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for over two years and have worked in the development and implementation of local tobacco control policy in municipalities throughout Massachusetts. I was part of the technical assistance team that provided support for the Westminster board of health when they were considering a municipal ban on the sale of all tobacco products.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.