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The county Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved changes to a proposed tobacco retail license ordinance intended to reduce usage by minors and hold retailers more accountable.

The board voted 4-1 with Kristin Gaspar dissenting, in favor of three amendments — making 18 the minimum age for a store clerk to handle a tobacco sale, allowing the transfer of a tobacco retail license from the owner to immediate family members and establishing licensing fees.

If passed, the proposal would:

  • set a minimum pack size and a minimum price for sales
  • allow the county to enforce minimum age laws and a previously adopted ban on flavored tobacco products
  • prohibit the sale of tobacco products at pharmacies

The proposed ordinance does not affect hookah tobacco use. It will require a second reading in December before being law.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the board has covered the proposed ordinance at length. He called it “an appropriate step forward.”

Supervisor Dianne Jacob said the proposed ordinance can help keep tobacco products out of the hands of young people.

During the board’s Oct. 27 meeting supervisors voted 3-2, with Jim Desmond and Gaspar opposed, on the first reading of the ordinance.

Desmond said he was glad that the proposal covered the license transfer.

His earlier opposition involved concern that the proposed ordinance’s age limits would deny people under 21 job opportunities.

Gaspar previously said she didn’t support the proposed ordinance as written because it pitted urban and suburban-based retailers against rural ones, and that many young people don’t rely on retail stores for tobacco.

Like any ordinance approved by Board of Supervisors, it would only apply to unincorporated areas of San Diego County.

— City News Service