This week, the San Mateo City Council unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance that will ban the sales of flavored tobacco within the city, as well as ban the sales of all e-cigarettes. It will also prohibit the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies within city limits. The move comes as the state prepares to enact its own ban on Jan. 1, 2021, though it could be challenged if a proposed ballot referendum garners enough signatures to delay its implementation.
It also does not include an exemption for hookah tobacco, something that is contained in the state’s bill.
The ordinance must still go through a second reading in October before it becomes law. If passed, it is slated to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021. The ordinance’s original implementation date of April 5, 2021 was amended during discussions to hasten the law’s implementation. If passed, retailers would be subject to a number of penalties for violating the law, as a retailer’s tobacco sales permit could be suspended, and fines starting at $100 for a first violation, $200 for a second, and $500 for each additional violation within a year. During discussions, council members discussed increasing those penalties, something that could still be changed during the second reading or at a point in the future.
The city joins the surrounding unincorporated areas of San Mateo County in passing the ban, as county leaders banned flavored tobacco sales in those areas in June 2018. It also becomes the second city in the Bay Area to support such a ban this week, with Mill Valley enacting a similar ban on Monday as well.
San Mateo is located approximately 20 miles south of San Francisco and is home to an estimated 105,000 residents.