Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

News

March 27, 2014

Hookah lounges, e-cigarettes under fire

Andover seeks to toughen tobacco regs

The Board of Health is considering new tobacco regulations that would outlaw hookah lounges, restrict e-cigarettes sales to minors and tighten restrictions on cigar sales.

The proposed regulations come on the heels of an application for a hookah tobacco lounge, which sought to open on Park Street at the edge of the downtown.

While Lux Hookah Lounge was denied a permit from the town’s Building Department, Health Director Tom Carbone said there are currently no health regulations in place that would prohibit a tobacco lounge from doing business in Andover.

He said the lounge legally has the right to operate because state law allows smoking at any establishment where more than half of its products qualify as tobacco related. Because Andover presently does not have its own regulations for tobacco lounges, it is bound by the state rules.

Carbone said he did not act on Lux’s application after Building Inspector Chris Clemente denied the lounge a permit because its owners were unable to provide a clear answer on their intended use of the proposed Park Street site.

But under current health regulations, Carbone said he could approve the Plymouth-based Lux’s application today.

Carbone said heath officials have been considering new regulations for years, but were prompted into action by Lux’s application.

“There are a lot of things not covered by the law, so we had to take the bull by the horns with something that has been waiting to be addressed,” he said.

If adopted, the new rules, which require Board of Health approval only, would take effect Jan. 1. They would be the first major update to the town’s tobacco use regulations since Town Meeting banned cigarette smoking inside restaurants in 1994. Convenience store owners as well as the proponents behind Lux attended a public hearing on the proposal last week.

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