California law says that it is illegal for anyone to sell cigarettes to youths under age eighteen. He problem, critics say, is that so little is being done to enforce it. Now city staff is suggesting that the city adopt a new ordinance which would require a license to sell cigarettes, similar to the license store owners require to sell alcohol. The license would cost about $450.

About fifty communities across California already have such a license in place, so there is certainly a precedent.  There is also opposition, including some very powerful opposition. Philip Morris, for instance, which manufactures cigarettes, take a strong stand against underage smoking on its website. On the other hand, it has reportedly circulated a flyer to its local dealers, encouraging them to speak out against regulation. Some of these dealers expressed that view at a City Council meeting on the issue this Tuesday. Matt Harrison of West Coast Cigars cautioned that, “Whatever laws you put in place, the kids that want to smoke cigarettes are going to get them.”

Many others disagree, however, so it remains for City Council to decide what to do. They will be discussing the issue again in December, just in time for Christmas. To quote from the Breakfast Club, “It was a banner fuckin’ year at the old Bender family. I got a carton of cigarettes. The old man grabbed me and said, ‘Hey, smoke up, Johnny!’”

It’s doubtful whether anyone wants to see that happening in San Jose. The question is whether a license is the solution.
Read More at ABC 7.