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By Miriam Raftery

November 18, 2018 (Lemon Grove) – Lemon Grove’s City Council will consider a tobacco retail licensing ordinance aimed at keeping tobacco products away from children. Following months of planning and community input, the ordinance will have its first reading at Tuesday’s 6 p.m. council meeting at the Lemon Grove Community Center, 3146 School Lane, Lemon Grove.

A 2017 survey by Community Action Service Advocacy (CASA) found that 31% of tobacco retailers in Lemon Grove sold tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to minors in violation of state law. Further, 19% of these retailers did not ask for IDs although an ID is required by the law; still others did ask for ID and though the ID showed the person was not 21, still sold them the tobacco product.

The ordinance, part of Lemon Grove’s healthy community initiative, has been prioritized by the Council to help reduce the number of stores selling tobacco items to children by implementing a tobacco retail licensing program.  The Tobacco Retailer Licensing Program will include a fee structure that will cover the cost of license administration and yearly compliance checks by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.

Carol Green, public health advocate for Communities Against Substance Abuse (CASA) a nonprofit advocating for safe and healthy neighborhoods,  says tobacco retailer licensing is effective at reducing smoking among youth. “More than 100 communities in California have adopted strong local tobacco retailer licensing ordinances in an effort to reduce illegal sales of tobacco products to minors,” a press release from CASA states.

Nearly 9 out of 10 smokers in California start smoking before age 21. In East County 60% of high school juniors believe tobacco is easy to get. And 4% of Grossmont Union’s 11th graders are current smokers with 11% using electronic cigarettes within the last 30 days, according to the CA Healthy Kids Survey 2015-16 in the Grossmont Union High School District.

“Reducing illegal underage sales of tobacco products prevents a lifetime of addiction and resulting chronic disease. Increasing the enforcement of laws prohibiting illegal sales to minors has been remarkably effective in many California cities,” Green concludes.

Learn more at https://www.lemongrove.ca.gov/business/tobacco-education.

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