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November 26, 2010 > County adopts third tobacco ordinance

County adopts third tobacco ordinance

Submitted By Gwendolyn Mitchell and Laurel Anderson

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the Tobacco Retailer Permit Ordinance, the final of three new ordinances for tobacco control that will require licensing of tobacco retailers.

The Smoking Pollution Control Ordinance and the Multi-Unit Residences Ordinance (adopted November 9, 2010) and the latest ordinance (approved on November 23, 2010) make Santa Clara County a leader in the nation in preventing youth tobacco use and protecting residents from second-hand smoke. They apply to the unincorporated areas of the County.

The Tobacco Retailer Permit Ordinance will require all retailers to obtain and maintain an annual permit to sell tobacco products. They would pay a one-time application fee and an annual fee to cover the costs of administration and enforcement of the ordinance. A similar retail permit measure is being considered by the City of San Jose.

It will take effect in 60 days; however, the County will delay enforcement of the provision prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco products for an additional 30 days to consider potential impacts on cigar and pipe tobacco products whose higher cost means youth are less likely to smoke them.

The County will cover the application fee of $340 for existing, legally operating tobacco retailers. All tobacco retailers, new and existing, will be subject to the $425 annual permit fee.

The ordinance also bans any new retail outlets from selling tobacco if they operate a pharmacy or are located within 1,000 feet of a school or within 500 feet of another tobacco retailer.

The Smoking Pollution Control Ordinance protects non-smokers from second-hand smoke exposure in public. Under the measure, smoking is banned at the County Fairgrounds and at all County parks. More protections against second-hand smoke in workplaces will also be implemented. Smoking is prohibited in, and within 30 feet of, any outdoor service area, such as a ticket line or the outdoor portion of a restaurant. Additionally, motels and hotels will become entirely smoke-free facilities.

"Ten percent of the kids in Santa Clara County smoke cigarettes. It's been too easy for underage youth to walk into a retailer and purchase tobacco products. We know that once these young people begin smoking, they're likely to continue into adulthood and increase their risks of premature death from heart disease, stroke and cancer," said Dr. Marty Fenstersheib, Santa Clara County Health Officer. "Retail licenses are a proven deterrent to youth-access to cigarettes. Preventing youth from starting to smoke is much easier than trying to get them to stop."

The Multi-Unit Residences Ordinance bans smoking in the common areas of all multi-unit residences and in all apartment units, condominiums and townhouses. The ordinance allows for designated smoking areas for such residences provided they are in unenclosed areas that are at least 30 feet away from operable doors, windows and other openings into enclosed areas where smoking is not permitted.

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