Hesperia Council steps up pressure on tobacco retailers
Hesperia City Council has approved an ordinance to censor tobacco retailers in order to reduce the number of those using tobacco products and to protect the health of minors.
The first reading of the ordinance by the city council on October 19 regulates the sales of tobacco products and requires the authorization of tobacco retailers in the city.
Hesperia town officials approved the order after listening to several residents who raised concerns about retailers selling traditional and flavored tobacco products to minors.
Linda Titus, chair of the San Bernardino County Superior Affairs Commission, told council members that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is usually caused by smoking, as cited by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Long-term exposure to lung irritants, like cigarette smoke and second-hand smoke, can contribute to COPD, according to the CDC.
“Smoking accounts for up to eight in 10 COPD-related deaths and 38% of the nearly 16 million American adults diagnosed with COPD report currently smoking,” said Titus, who cited the CDC.
Michelle Bohannon, a student at Sultana High School, told the council that in 2019, members of the student-led “Cali Youth Coalition” visited tobacco retailers in the city.
Bohannon said 16.66% of retailers were illegally selling tobacco to visiting CYC lures, including a child who sold flavored tobacco products for under $ 2 at two retail establishments.
Mayor Cameron Gregg and Mayor Pro Tem Brigit Bennington congratulated the student coalition for their work.
City Councilor Larry Bird, who is director of Sultana High, said before the COVID-19 pandemic, vaping was a huge problem on campus and continues to grow.
The cost of a tobacco retail license will be $ 210, which includes an initial inspection by a code enforcement officer as well as additional inspections throughout the year.
A combined license fee will be available for retailers that fall under the city’s deemed approved program. The cost of this license will be $ 485.
The combined license fee consists of the approved fee of $ 325 plus an additional $ 160 to cover the costs of additional code enforcement inspections during license application and throughout the year.
If necessary, a re-inspection fee may be charged for an additional $ 60 for each inspection.
The Tobacco Retail Licensing Program will provide the city with the ability to enforce existing federal and state laws. In addition, the possibility of creating provisions that specifically deter retailers from selling tobacco products to young minors, says a staff report.
City Attorney Eric Dunn clarified that CBD products are not covered by the order.
The license prohibits the sale of individually wrapped tobacco products and prohibits coupons, discounts, promotions and / or samples of tobacco and flavored tobacco. Tobacco is illegal to sell and use for people under the age of 21.
The program will require all tobacco retailers in the city to obtain a tobacco retail license, which will be renewed annually and displayed at all times at the retail location.
The tobacco ordinance will include compliance checks carried out by the city’s code enforcement department.
The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department may also conduct undercover operations to ensure compliance with the Tobacco Licensing Ordinance and federal and state tobacco laws. A violation of any existing federal or state law will constitute a violation of the Tobacco Retail License.
Violations will result in the license being suspended or revoked, depending on the number and type of violations.
Tobacco retailers who sell to minors are subject to penalties. In addition, a retailer who sells tobacco to youth, after a first offense, must apply for a conditional use permit, which may result in the loss of the ability to sell tobacco products.
Operating without a tobacco license will constitute a violation which will also result in the suspension and / or revocation of the license. During the period of suspension or revocation, the retailer must not sell, display or advertise tobacco products of any kind.
Undercover operations conducted by the sheriff’s department may also be partially funded by associated fees.
Daily Press reporter Rene Ray De La Cruz can be reached at 760-951-6227 or RDeLaCruz@VVDailyPress.com. Follow him on Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz.