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Board Approves Jacobs/Fletcher Initiated Plan for Tobacco Retail License Ordinance

10/27/20

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, along with Chairman Greg Cox and Supervisor Dianne Jacob, today voted to implement a Tobacco Retail License ordinance in the unincorporated areas of San Diego County to hold retailers more accountable and curb tobacco use by youth. Today’s action by the Board was the final step in policy proposal brought forward last year, by Supervisor Fletcher in partnership with Supervisor Dianne Jacob, which put a ban on flavored tobacco products and moratorium on the sale and distribution of electronic smoking devices. 

“Today’s action helps teens and young adults from becoming another big tobacco profit generating statistic,” said Supervisor Fletcher.  “The best way to achieve that goal locally is to implement a Tobacco Retail License Ordinance to discourage underage tobacco use. “We want to prevent that and hold retailers accountable. As a County we have a responsibility to protect public health, and this ordinance is a way to keep our young people safe and healthy.”  

According to the 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration, 3.6 million American middle and high school students used e-cigarettes, with 20% using within the past month. 

In a survey of tobacco retailers conducted earlier this year in the unincorporated County 20 percent of stores were found to sell to minors. While not every retailer is a bad actor, it is clear increased regulations can help ensure that tobacco products are kept out of kids’ hands.  During the meeting, Supervisor Fletcher proposed a fee be included as part of the Tobacco Retail License to ensure the new ordinance has teeth, which the majority supported. Some of the important aspects of the Tobacco Retail License include:

  • It sets a minimum pack size and a minimum price for sales - a 10% increase in prices is associated with a 25% decrease in sales,
  • Allows County to enforce minimum age laws,
  • Allows County to enforce the previously adopted ban on flavored tobacco products,
  • Prohibits the sale of tobacco products at pharmacies, 

In 2015, CVS stopped selling cigarettes. In states where CVS had a prominent footprint, cigarette sales in aggregate declined by a total of 95 million packs -- that is 95 million packs that were never sold, never smoked -- that is a real benefit from pharmacies to not sell tobacco products. Other entities like Target have also stopped selling these products.

The tobacco retail license will be operational in the unincorporated county on July 1, 2021.