Contra Costa Supervisors Approve Licensing of Stores to Cut Down on Tobacco Sales to Minors
Stepping up their campaign to reduce cigarette sales to minors, Contra Costa County supervisors voted unanimously yesterday to require all stores in unincorporated areas that sell tobacco products to obtain annual licenses, the Contra Costa Times reports. The move gives the county greater authority over tobacco sellers, allowing the board to revoke a store's license if it is caught selling cigarettes to minors. "The license gives us more leverage over the stores. Sure, you can fine them, but what we really want is for them to stop selling to minors," Supervisor Donna Gerber said. According to the Department of Health Services Food and Drug Branch, 16.6% of Contra Costa stores sold tobacco products to minors during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2001; state officials say the rate has now reached 21%. The Times reports that the board's decision marks an "about-face from" 1998, when it voted 3-to-2 against a "broad licensing requirement." Supervisor Gayle Uilkema, who changed her vote, said, "I have a tendency not to favor regulation, but the current system isn't working." Separately, supervisors called on Congress to pass a bill that would allow cities and counties to prohibit tobacco advertising "inside and outside stores." Contra Costa had an advertising ban in place, but it was nullified by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year striking down such advertising restrictions. Supervisors said that a federal law could "open the door" for a reinstatement of the county's advertising ban (Cuff, Contra Costa Times, 2/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.