Update: County passes Bay Area’s strictest tobacco ordinance

City Council is considering stepping up local enforcement of state law that prohibits the sale of tobacco to minors.

No smoking signs will be added to county parks, some area
hotels, outdoor eating areas and even a shooting range, if the
Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors gets its way pending the a
final vote Nov. 9 that would apply three anti-tobacco ordinances to
unincorporated areas of the county.
No smoking signs will be added to county parks, some area hotels, outdoor eating areas and even a shooting range, if the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors gets its way pending the a final vote Nov. 9 that would apply three anti-tobacco ordinances to unincorporated areas of the county.

The restrictions aimed at reducing the threat of secondhand smoke and prevention of tobacco sales to minors are being called the most stringent in the nation by District 4 Supervisor Ken Yeager, who brought the ordinances to the board.

They were approved Tuesday by the supervisors and will return next month for a final reading and vote.

The first ordinance would outlaw tobacco use in county parks, fairgrounds, rooms rented to guests at hotels and outdoor areas of hotels, outdoor shopping malls and retail stores that exclusively sell tobacco and paraphernalia. CordeValle would become entirely smoke-free if the ordinances passes. Its managing director, Alan Campey, said “at this time, it would be premature for us to comment on it until we better understand the scope and impact of it.”

The second ordinance would ban smoking inside duplexes, townhouse and apartment complexes as well as its common areas. It would require designated smoking areas for tenants and that a no-smoking-indoors clause be written into new tenants’ leases. The county could not provide a list of multiunit residences that would have to comply to the ordinance.

The third ordinance, and one that would affect the most number of businesses in Morgan Hill and San Martin, would tack on an annual $425 permit in order for retailers to sell tobacco.

Despite the California Cigarette and Tobacco Products Licensing Act passing in 2003 that requires every tobacco retailer to obtain a license from the California Board of Equalization – businesses will have to apply for another permit with the county.

Both permits hold businesses liable for violations of California laws, such as selling to minors, though the 2003 act is a one-time fee of up to $200 that is renewed at no cost each year.

“I don’t like being told how to run a business,” said Tom Rocca, owner of Rocca’s Market on Monterey Highway in San Martin.

He said Rocca’s Market will pay the $425 permit and continue to sell tobacco products, “which are legal,” Rocca added.

The county would govern and oversee the enforcement of these ordinances. The board directed its staff to look at waiving the additional $340 fee in the proposal for existing tobacco retailers and find out if it can be covered by the $7 million grant the Public Health Department received through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act .

The first violation of ordinances one and two is a $100 fine and violation of a smoking ban in apartments would be liable to lose their county permit. Retailers that also operate a pharmacy or are located within 1,000 feet of a school or within 500 feet of another tobacco retailer would no longer be allowed to sell tobacco. Supervisor Don Gage requested that the third ordinance, the “Tobacco Retailer Permit Ordinance,” be given an extended deadline until Nov. 23 before it is finalized to ensure all affected retailers are informed of the changes.

Businesses that would be affected by the smoking ban:

Coyote Valley Sporting Clays, 1000 San Bruno Ave., Morgan Hill

Emilo Guglielmo Winery Inc., 1470 East Main Ave., Morgan Hill

Parkway Lakes RV Investments, 100 Ogier Ave., Morgan Hill

Old Gilroy Service Station, 2035 Pacheco Pass, Gilroy

Avila’s Market, 14440 Monterey Highway, San Martin

CordeValle Golf Club, 1 CordeValle Club Dr., San Martin

Mama’s Market, 13305 Sycamore Avenue, San Martin

Rocca’s Market Inc., 13335 Monterey Highway, San Martin

San Martin Drive-In Market, 13320 Depot Street, San Martin

San Martin Gas and Mart, 13235 Monterey Highway, San Martin

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