Tobacco use is the number one preventable cause of death and disease in California, killing nearly 40,000 Californians every year. The 2012 Surgeon General’s Report found that about 90 percent of all smokers first tried cigarettes as teens; and that about three of every four teen smokers continue into adulthood. Further, young adults, ages 18 to 24 have the highest smoking prevalence among any age group according to the California Department of Public Health. A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that nationally, e-cigarette use among middle and high school students tripled from 2013 to 2014.

Studies have shown that limiting where tobacco is sold can curtail youth access to tobacco products, target enforcement of the licensing provisions, and combat social perceptions that tobacco use is normal or acceptable. Requiring a local tobacco retailer license generally increases compliance rates of tobacco sales laws and provides revenue to cover administration of license and enforcement efforts.

During the discussion regarding the Smoking Pollution Protection Ordinance in 2014, the City Council directed staff to also develop an ordinance to address regulating the sales of tobacco by businesses in El Cerrito. Staff from the City Manager’s Office, Community Development and the Police Department have met multiple times regarding development of a tobacco retailer license program. Staff has researched best practices in other communities as well as researched the location and business type of current tobacco retailers in El Cerrito, worked with the Contra Costa Tobacco Prevention Coalition (“Coalition”), and ChangeLab Solutions (a national, nonpartisan nonprofit), as well as gathered feedback from the public.

In October and November of 2014, the Planning Commission heard staff presentations and public comment, and also discussed aspects of proposed tobacco retailer license program. Around this time, staff also outreached to existing tobacco retailers through a survey and meeting notices.

On January 20, 2015, City Council held a study session about the proposed tobacco retailer license program and provided direction to staff.

In April, the Planning Commission held a public hearing to consider making a recommendation on the proposed ordinance. There was discussion but no consensus and the matter was continued to a future meeting.

On May 20, 2015, the Planning Commission held a public hearing and made a recommendation about the proposed Tobacco Retailer Licensing Program. You can access the agenda, e-packet and minutes from the Planning Commission webpage.

On September 15, 2015, the City Council passed the first reading of the ordinance. Download the staff report and ordinance. Watch the September 15, 2015 City Council Meeting at 47:00.

The El Cerrito City Council adopted the Tobacco Retailer License Program at their meeting on October 6, 2015. Download the adopted Ordinance.