Boston C-Store Owners Rally Against Tobacco Bans

Retailers call for sensible tobacco regulations, cite economic impact on neighborhood stores.

November 01, 2019

BOSTON—More than 100 convenience store owners gathered on Boston City Hall Plaza Wednesday to call for sensible tobacco regulations in Boston and across Massachusetts, the New England Convenience Store & Energy Marketers Association (NECSEMA) reported.

“Massachusetts convenience stores are too often taken for granted,” said Jon Shaer, executive director for NECSEMA. “Throughout the state, these stores provide the products and services their neighbors need when they need them most and are responsible for the collection and remittance of a significant amount of the state’s tax revenue through the sale of items such as gasoline, lottery, and tobacco. Can you imagine a day without your local convenience store?”

Both the Boston Public Health Commission and the Massachusetts Legislature are considering regulations that would ban the sale of menthol cigarettes and mint and wintergreen smokeless tobacco products from convenience stores.

Richard Marianos, who is the retired assistant director of the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said the proposal will move products from regulated convenience stores and expand illicit tobacco sales. He noted that “The revenue generated in Massachusetts from menthol cigarettes is over $2 billion.”

The Boston Convenience Store Owners Association (BCSOA) and NECSEMA said the regulations could also lead to widespread store closures, unemployment and food scarcity and disproportionately impact communities of color.

“We are minorities, we are immigrants and we demand that you represent us,” said Franciso Marte, president of BCSOA.

Many of the stores impacted by the policies are in underserved neighborhoods and are frequently the only accessible location for families on government assistance to purchase food and household essentials. The proposal would put many of these stores out of business, the owners said.

Organizers also noted that Massachusetts convenience stores have a 95% Food and Drug Administration (FDA) compliance rate with underage stings.