Palo Alto Considers Licenses for Tobacco Retailers

City examines toughening tobacco laws

PALO ALTO, Calif. -- An observer can spend all day and night in downtown Palo Alto, Calif., and never encounter a smoker, according to a recent article in the Palo Alto Weekly.

But as neighboring communities have stepped up their municipal tobacco codes, the city is looking into increasing its own efforts, the article reported, including potentially setting up a new licensing program.

Nearby San Jose implemented a licensing program in earlier this year, and Santa Clara also adopted a new Tobacco Retailer Permit Ordinance last November. Meanwhile, sales to [image-nocss] minors in Palo Alto have continued to be a problem, with Police Captain Mark Venable noting in a report that a 2010 sting operation found almost 50% of retailers that were approached sold tobacco to underage youth.

According to the Palo Alto Weekly article, the council committee has directed staff to explore setting up a new licensing program for tobacco businesses in the city and to apply for a county grant. The licensing fees will be used toward the city's inspection program.

The city will also consider prohibiting smoking all public areas, including sidewalks, within both public and private outdoor recreational areas and within a "20-plus foot buffer around all areas where smoking in prohibited."

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