Majority of LFDA Responders Oppose Town Bans on Sale of Tobacco Products - 475 responses

Nov 12, 2014

In November 2014, Westminster, MA was posed to become the first municipality in the US to ban the sale of tobacco products within town lines, a move aimed at discouraging tobacco use by the young. While the proposal has since been defeated, the Live Free or Die Alliance (LFDA) asked Facebook members to consider whether they would support a similar move to ban tobacco sales in their own communities, and received an overwhelmingly negative response.

Of members who directly answered the question, 83% - a firm majority – expressed strong opposition to such measures, while only 17% said they would support such a move in their own towns. Thirty-eight percent of total respondents chose to address their comments to broader issues. In total, the LFDA received 475 citizen responses, including specific comments from 219 individuals supported by 234 concurrences.

Two strong themes emerged in the responses of those expressing opposition to town bans on tobacco sales: a disapproval of attempts by local government to restrict the use of legal substances, and a lack of faith in the effectiveness of prohibition tactics to discourage cigarette use. "Why should any town or city be able to ban legally available products?" asked one respondent. "Unless everyone does it, the stores in that town just lose huge amounts of revenue to stores in the surrounding towns," commented another.

 Of the smaller percentage of respondents expressing support for such measures, several cited the right of residents of local municipalities to decide town policies.  "The town can pass what it wants," one respondent said. "Your vote matters. Attend a town hall." Some compared the move to similar bans on alcohol sales.

Many of those opting to use the question as a basis for a broader discussion expressed a general opposition to government moves to restrict access to legal substances, while others debated smoker's rights and the health risks of smoking.

Click here to see the full Facebook discussion of this question.

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