City leaders in Palo Alto, Calif. have made no secret of their disdain for tobacco over the past two years, banning smoking in parts of the downtown core as well as in all commercial and dining areas. This week, the city council gave what looks like a go-ahead to raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21-years-old as well as to ban smoking in apartment and condominium complexes.
While both changes have yet to be voted on, on Tuesday the City Council’s Policy and Services Committee unanimously agreed that they are worth pursuing and passed that recommendation onto the full council, according to a report from PaloAltoOnline.com.
As part of the apartment and condominium smoking ban, property owners would be allowed to establish designated smoking areas, but they would likely need to be a significant distance from any common areas or individual units.
The age increase would make Palo Alto the first city in Santa Clara County to increase the minimum age to purchase tobacco products to 21 and would bring it in line with the county’s standard for its unincorporated areas, a change made in June 2015 and that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2016.
The proposed increase could be subject to legal scrutiny, however, as there is debate as to whether under California state law cities are allowed to the age to purchase tobacco products. Healdsburg recently stopped enforcement of its increase, while Berkeley acknowledged the possible challenge during debates to increase its purchase age, a change scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2017.
Additionally, Palo Alto will be considering new regulations and licensing for tobacco retailers, with new retailers subject to a complete ban on the sale of flavored tobacco and a requirement that they be at least 1,000 feet from a school, 5,000 feet from another retailer or be located inside a pharmacy.
The full council is expected to consider the proposed changes in the coming weeks.
Palo Alto is located in Santa Clara County in the southern Bay Area and is home to more than 66,000 residents.