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City looks to snuff underage smoking

Ben Godar

The City Council is considering an ordinance to regulate tobacco

retailers as a way to curb the sale of cigarettes to minors.

Under the proposed ordinance, discussed by the council and city

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staff Tuesday night, merchants would be required to secure a license

in order to sell tobacco products.

Elaine Pease, senior license and code services inspector, said

local legislation would allow the city to issue fines and possibly

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revoke the licenses of retailers who repeatedly sell tobacco products

to underage customers.

“Right now, state law covers this, but if we enact our own

ordinance, we can make it stronger,” she said.

Pease told the council an ordinance could outlaw mobile outlets

such as ice-cream trucks from selling cigarettes. Presently, 24

cities in California require tobacco retailers to be licensed,

including Los Angeles.Officials from the American Heart Association

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and the Valley Community Clinic attended Tuesday’s meeting and

expressed support for the ordinance.

“We need a serious program with real enforcement to prevent

illegal tobacco sales,” American Heart Assn. spokesman Robert Donin

told the council.

According to city staff, there are between 300 and 400

establishments in Burbank that sell tobacco products. Pease said the

initial costs of inspecting and licensing each establishment could be

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significant.

Mayor Stacey Murphy expressed concerns about the amount of staff

time it would take to monitor the licenses.

“We’re cutting back and putting more and more [work] on staff,”

Murphy said. “I’d hate to put another level of bureaucracy on.”

Depending on how high the license fee was set, License and Code

Services Supervisor Terre Hirsh told the council it could balance the

cost of operating such a program.

The cost of a tobacco license in other California cities that have

enacted a regulation varies, with the highest being $283 per year in

Berkeley, he said.

The council took no action on a possible ordinance, but asked

staff to return with more information on potential costs.


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