El Cerrito, Calif. announced a number of changes to its tobacco policy last year, including banning smoking in parks, open spaces, sidewalks, multifamily housing and areas like bus stops, as well as increasing the minimum tobacco purchase age to from 18 to 21, a series of moves that would give them some of the strictest tobacco laws in the state.

Now the city council is in the process of implementing more changes, having recently directed city staff to draft up legislation that they are looking to vote on in the near future.

At its Jan. 20 meeting, the council endorsed a series of recommendations put forth by the city’s planning commission, including a prohibition on businesses that allow smoking, such as cigar, hookah and vapor lounges. The council is also supporting a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products as well as single cigars and those that come in small packaging formats.

In an attempt to limit a concentration of tobacco shops in certain areas, a new proposal in the works would require a new tobacco retailer to be at least 1,000 feet from any existing shops that sell tobacco, though the council acknowledged that could limit certain businesses from opening in the city. To address that, they are looking at reserving the right to allow for a conditional permit, according to the Contra Costa Times.

Additionally, new tobacco retailers would have to be at least 500 feet from schools, parks and the city library, as well as other places where children frequent.

A plan to raise the minimum purchase age has been scrapped after it was deemed it would be in conflict with state law.

The report says that there are currently 18 tobacco retailers in the city, with two stores that specialize in tobacco, though neither of them are listed in the IPCPR or CRA directories.

El Cerrito is located in Contra Costa County, approximately 15 miles northeast of San Francisco. It is home to approximately 25,000 residents.

Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.