Keene, NH Poised to Ban Sale or Possession of Nicotine By Anyone Under the Age of 21 - Granite Grok

Keene, NH Poised to Ban Sale or Possession of Nicotine By Anyone Under the Age of 21

young woman smoking nicotine

The dreary drama of nicotine shaming has been on tap all summer in Keene, New Hampshire. But the show appears to have reached its third and final act. In late October the city published the draft ordinance banning the “Purchase, Use, and Possession of Tobacco Products.”

Related: The NH Tobacco Tax Increase is Not About Youth Smoking or Public Health

At the direction of the City Council at its meeting on October 4, 2018, attached is a draft ordinance for review and consideration, in connection with raising the minimum age to 21 for the purchase and sale, use, and possession of tobacco products.

It’s a straightforward ban. No person under the age of 21 shall purchase or possess a tobacco product, e-cigarettes, or liquid nicotine. No business establishment shall sell or provide same to anyone under the age of 21.

There is a $50.00 fine for a first-time violation which increases to $100.00 on subsequent charges.

You Can’t Smoke Em Cuz You Can’t Have Em

And by prohibiting possession adults under the age of 21 may not buy the products outside the city limits and then transport them in. A problem that Ian at Free Keene outlined in a Sept, 27th article

Kate McNally, program manager for “Cheshire Coalition for Tobacco Free Communities,” despite being the person who started this awful political process spoke first and explained (at the hearing) that her group was NOT asking the city to prohibit the use of nicotine, just the sale. She seems to realize that criminalizing possession would allow police to target young people for harassment and spoke against that clearly.

Ask not, what your City can do for you but what you can (inadvertently) cause your city to do to you.

In a perfect example of how you don’t control the government once you set it in motion, the majority of the committee voted 3-1 to ask city staff to write up an ordinance that would prohibit both sale AND possession of nicotine by people under 21 in Keene. That includes tobacco and all vaporizing products like vape pens and nicotine juice.

And so, it has come to pass. The ordinance requested on October 4th is written. They will approve it, (probably) right after another hearing at which the City Council will ignore the public outcry from local businesses and citizens.

This is Keene. Elected officials know better. They only suffer through the public comment because it is required.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make a case

David Kochman, in a letter to the editor in the Keene Sentinel, notes that,

An 18-year-old can join the Marines and go to Parris Island, but he can’t buy a pack of cigarettes? How can we even consider such a ludicrous idea? Somebody needs to put an end to this Nanny State nonsense. The under-manned Keene police certainly have more important things to do than bust adult smokers. What are we going to do when people don’t pay their fines?

The answer is simple. Get out the urban assault vehicle for some early morning raids. Yes, I’m exaggerating, but how much will it cost in enforcement to write citations and collect fines?

Will Keene feel a financial obligation to harass anyone under the age of 21 they suspect might possess nicotine products because they want or need the cash? And what sort of atmosphere or culture does that create?

Is it one that further impacts Keene State College enrollment problems?

Asking for a friend.

Related: The Keene State College Budget Crisis Evolution