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Could Healdsburg Raise Cigarette-Buying Age to 21?

Healdsburg might ban tobacco sales to anyone younger than 21.

File photo.
File photo.
Healdsburg might soon have something in common with New York City.

The Big Apple last month raised the minimum age to buy tobacco products to 21, and a majority of Healdsburg City Council members this week said they'd like the same to happen here.

According to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Healdsburg officials discussed moving forward with a plan first discussed two months ago to raise the age to buy cigarettes and other tobacco products. All but one council member supported the move, despite a warning from City Attorney David Warner, the Press Democrat reported.

“There is some risk involved, potential litigation if we get too far ahead (of other cities),” the Press Democrat quoted Warner as saying.

Like in New York, the change in Healdsburg wouldn't outlaw smoking by those younger than 21–it would just prohibit them from buying cigarettes. It would be the first such law in California if adopted.

Critics in New York and Healdsburg City Council Member Gary Plass oppose the move, saying it's unfair to allow 18-year-olds to join the military and vote, then say they aren't mature enough to decide whether or not they should smoke.

In 2005, the Boston suburb of Needham, MA., raised its tobacco-buying age to 21. The smoking rate in that city is now 56 percent less than the overall Massachusetts rate, according to data from officials there.

Stores in Healdsburg could also be squeezed by any law raising the age to purchase cigarettes.

The president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores told the New York City Council that raising the age to purchase cigarettes would also cut down on "incidental" purchases like coffee and lottery tickets, possibly causing "thousands" of store employees to lose their jobs, according to the New York Times.

Healdsburg officials could take a formal vote on an increase to the tobacco-buying age in late January, the Press Democrat said.

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Is this a good idea or a bad move for Healdsburg? Tell us in the comments section below.

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Ed Justice December 06, 2013 at 01:39 PM
I have to wonder if this is a worthy use of public funds. If memory serves me, the city was in dire financial straits a few months ago. Now there is money to finance a new social engineering program? This is an area that is best debated and addressed on a national level. That process has led to significant changes to tobacco company practices. The city attorney bills by the hour. He has warned council that this will lead to litigation. Unfortunately, our news reporter failed to ask the most relevant questions. What is the hourly cost for the attorney's services? How much is the city prepared to spend defending something that is preempted by State and Federal law? Who is going to enforce the ordinance and are there costs associated with that process? The public deserves a clear picture of what this program is going to cost and how it will be financed. The money should not come from the already strapped general fund.
Gary Miksis December 13, 2013 at 10:19 AM
What about Banning "Big Gulp" drinks like those idiots in New York. Healdsburg can hire a staff of attorneys,turn those tasting rooms into law offices, create a more diversified commercial base .

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