Santa Clara County tightens tobacco regulations

November 23, 2010 7:50:24 PM PST
There is a new effort in the Bay Area to keep cigarettes out of the hands of children. The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors passed a new law Tuesday tightening regulations on tobacco products. They voted unanimously to begin regulation and enforcement of tobacco sales.

Board President Ken Yeager says the main goal is to prevent sales to minors, because state regulations don't do enough.

"For the first time really here in Santa Clara County there will be a real penalty to these stores that are selling tobacco products to minors," says Yeager.

The California Association of Retail Tobacconists says the new law is unnecessary in light of state regulations.

"We're very upset by the action of the board today,"

All but one part of the ordinance will go into effect in 60 days, but the board is giving itself 90 days to reconsider a ban on flavored tobaccos like those used in cigars and pipes.

"Why would you pass something if you know it's going to change? Isn't that just a waste of people's time?" says Bill Davis from West Coast Cigars.

Davis says a flavored tobacco ban would put him out of business without having any effect on preventing illegal sales.

"We're not a corner drugstore or gas station, we're not selling cigarettes, we're selling cigars and pipe tobacco to connoisseurs and customers where kids aren't frequenting," says Davis.

Former smoker Tim Logan is an American Cancer Society volunteer.

"It doesn't matter how much you flavor it or don't flavor it, it doesn't matter whether it's in a cigarette, you roll it, you put in a pipe or you put it between tobacco leaves, it's still tobacco and a public health threat in this country," says Logan.

The new law affects 33 retailers in the unincorporated areas. It requires a one-time application fee of $340 and an annual licensing fee of $425. The money would be put back toward inspections.

Retailers are at risk of losing their licenses if they sell to minors.

Three other Bay Area cities have already passed similar laws and San Jose is considering one.


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