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Sonoma City Council to again take up rules governing tobacco vendors

ELOÍSA RUANO GONZÁLEZ , THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

A proposed ordinance that would prohibit new businesses from selling tobacco products in Sonoma is expected to come back to the City Council for a vote tonight.

Aimed at curtailing the sale of cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products to minors, the measure would require the 15 existing tobacco retailers to obtain a license with the city, which would then use the money from the fees for a youth-decoy sting program, coordinated by sheriff’s deputies and Police Chief Bret Sackett.

It also would restrict, for example, the sale of cheap individual flavored cigars and prohibit the display of cigarette and tobacco-product advertisements.

Council members started looking at clamping down on tobacco retailers last year after the city received an “F” on an American Lung Association report card for it efforts to restrict secondhand smoke. Council members held a discussion in October but postponed any action, saying they needed more time to comb through the proposal. They also wanted to wait until new council members were elected and sworn in.

City staff brought forward draft ordinances in February and March. Both times, the council postponed a decision, directing staff to make further tweaks.

The move comes as Sonoma County supervisors also are considering tightening regulations on tobacco retailers outside city limits.

City officials are recommending council members move forward with the ordinance. “Time is of the essence in getting this critical issue addressed,” city staff members stated in a report.

Tonight’s meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the Sonoma City Council chambers.