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Sleepy Massachusetts town could become 1st in the nation to ban all tobacco sales

WESTMINSTER, Mass. – The sleepy central Massachusetts town of Westminster has become an improbable battleground in America’s tobacco wars.

The Board of Health will hold a public hearing Wednesday on a proposed regulation that could make Westminster the first municipality in the United States to ban the sale of all tobacco products.

Westminster health agent Elizabeth Swedberg says she objects to tobacco companies promoting products to young people, such as 69-cent bubblegum-flavoured cigars, electronic cigarettes and a new form of dissolvable smokeless tobacco that resembles Tic Tac candies.

But local shops — and local smokers — oppose a total ban. One merchant, Brian Vincent, has gathered more than 800 signatures on a petition against it.