California Bill to Restrict Tobacco Sales Shot Down

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A proposal to prohibit the sale of tobacco products at California convenience stores has flamed out. 

On June 2, the state Senate passed a bill that would restrict tobacco sales to cigar shops. This piece of legislation, known as SB 1400, was introduced by state Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont), as CSNews Online previously reported.

However, the measure did not even make a vote in the state Assembly. 

According to The Sacramento Bee, opponents — including the retailers and distributors associations and more than 200 c-store owners — attended the Assembly Business and Professions Committee hearing on Tuesday to make the case that the proposed legislation would destroy their livelihoods.

According to a committee analysis, more than 30,000 retailers, including grocery stores and gas stations, would lose the ability to sell tobacco, leaving about 2,200 existing tobacco stores and an estimated 7,000 new locations that might open, the report added.

Committee members said they appreciated Wieckowski's goal, but that the bill went too far in hurting small businesses. "If smoking is going to be legal in the state of California, then we cannot continue to do all these little cuts," said Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton).

After discussing the proposal, committee chair Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield}) called for a motion to vote on the bill. His colleagues remained silent, the news outlet reported.

"Seeing and hearing none, the measure fails," he said.

Under current California law, retailers selling tobacco products must obtain a license from the state Board of Equalization. Retail locations currently include convenience stores, grocery stores, gas stations, drug stores, airports, hookah lounges and tobacco shops.  

Children under 18 are not allowed in tobacco shops unless accompanied by a parent and are therefore not exposed to tobacco advertising. SB 1400 would have changed the definition for tobacco retail locations to mean a store that generates more than 60 percent of its gross revenues annually from the sale of tobacco products and paraphernalia. 

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