Letter to the Editor

Open Letter Opposing Proposed Charles Street Smoke Shop

To the Editor:

Today I am writing to you as a concerned resident and parent regarding smoke shops and the lack of current zoning to protect children from becoming the target of the tobacco industry.

Will you support buffer zoning in the city of Boston to restrict a smoke shop from operating within 1,000 feet from a school or place where children congregate. (Measured via a straight line from the front door of the proposed site to any point on the lot of the School or site where children congregate)?

I realize this proposed buffer zone is greater than the current 500-feet buffer zone for a marijuana dispensary. I believe both types of retail should have the 1,000-foot buffer zone.

The primary reason for this buffer zone is to protect the health of our youth by reducing the accessibility of tobacco and vape products. In addition, this zoning would reduce the visibility of target marketing to our youth via window displays and signage.

The State of Massachusetts has documented the alarming facts around the vaping/tobacco industry. The facts below are cited on the Ma.gov website and in a 2019 study cited in the Journal of American medical Association Pediatrics.

 Facts:

* vaping is addictive and Nicotine can harm your brain, including your memory and ability to learn

* 51.2 % of high school students have tried vaping

* 32% currently vape

* 15% of middle school children have tried vaping

 * The tobacco and vaping industries target young people so you’ll become lifetime users addicted to their products. Cigarette makers own and invest in vape companies.

*The vaping industry makes their products taste like fruit or candy so you will want to try them

*If you vape, you are four times more likely to smoke cigarettes

* 49.8%  of tobacco/vape  stores failed to ask for IDs of minors who tried to purchase vape

*44.7% of tobacco/vape stores  sold vape products to minors

As you’re all aware, a smoke shop has signed a long-term lease for 138 Charles St. in Beacon Hill. While I understand this particular shop is completely legal, we should act now so that future stores of this nature go through a zoning process.

If proper buffer zoning had been in place, this  location would not be feasible. It is on a direct path of hundreds of children each week who use the Esplanade for their playing fields. There is no school with fields on Beacon Hill so we depend on those fields as a school would depend on their onsite campus fields. It is important to note that The Advent school has a location less than 500 feet away (direct line measurement) at 99 West Cedar. In addition, there is an ice cream store three doors away from 138 Charles St., where children congregate on most sunny days.

I urge you to take the steps necessary to ensure that the proper zoning is put in place to protect our children from the harmful effects of vaping/tobacco use.

Thank You, Diana Coldren

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