Legislators in Sonoma County, Calif. are still not sure whether they will implement a new $630 annual fee on the 140 or so tobacco retailers outside city limits. On Tuesday night, the Sonoma County Council heard from both community members and retailers on both sides of the issue and after all sides were heard, they decided to delay the vote until their Nov. 10 meeting.
The proposed licensing fee and other changes–including a reclassification of electronic smoking devices as tobacco products and a $7 minimum price for a pack of cigarettes–are centered around restricting youth access to tobacco in the county best known for its wine production.
While there are already laws and penalties on the books for tobacco retailers when it comes to selling to minors, the new fee would go to further inspections and sting operations that target repeat violators, according to The Press Democrat. Despite the council generally being in favor of reducing youth access to cigarettes, divides were exposed when the discussion turned to the proposed fees and minimum pricing, since it wouldn’t apply to stores located within the limits of cities in Sonoma County.
Sonoma County is located directly north from San Francisco and is home to an estimated 500,000 residents.