Barrington residents, business owners react to new ordinance on tobacco, vaping

By: John Krinjak

Email: jkrinjak@abc6.com

Twitter: johnkrinjakABC6

BARRINGTON, RI (WLNE) – Barrington is taking a stand on tobacco and vaping products–and who can buy them.

A new ordinance, set to take effect September 5, would raise the legal age to buy cigarettes and vaping products from 18 to 21. 

For the last four years, Louis Del Sesto has owned the E-Cig Shed on Maple Avenue.

In that time, he’s seen his business grow–as vaping has grown in popularity, with many seeing it as a safer alternative to cigarettes. 

The ordinance’s passage by the Barrington Town Council caught him by surprise. 

"I got no warning at all. There was no letter saying hey we’re having hearings, nothing like that," said Del Sesto. 

Barrington is the second city or town in Rhode Island to raise the tobacco age. Central Falls is the other.

"I think it goes too far. You can do a lot of things when you turn 18. You can vote. You can go to war. You can get married, have children. You can do a whole bunch of other stuff. Makes no sense," said Del Sesto.

But many residents I spoke to–including some parents–support the move, even for vaping.  

"There is a lot of evidence that if you delay starting, there’s a good chance that you won’t start at all," said Amanda Jocelyn. 

"I don’t have a problem with that. it’s a good thing," said John Cello. "I used to chew tobacco and it was a tough habit to kick."

Del Sesto says the age increase will only drive people under 21 to get their tobacco and vaping products somewhere else.

"They’re going to go to Warren, which is about five minutes away, East Providence, Bristol, and then every other town in the state," said Del Sesto. 

He says he has no choice but to follow the rules, but worries about an uncertain future. 

"It’s going to hurt us bad. I don’t know if we’re going to survive it," said Del Sesto. "Without that type of job, I’m going to probably end up losing my house, I’m going to lose everything."

The ordinance would also increase the licensing fee for retailers–and ban the use of coupons or discounts for tobacco products. 

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2017