I agree with the majority of the Atascadero City Council that it needs to take a look at the issue of tobacco licensing. When almost one-third of 25 local retailers tested sold cigarettes to minors, something needs to be done.
Unfortunately, only the on-duty sales clerks are the ones who suffer from the infraction. The store owner does not.
And some on the council don’t think it would be a good idea to put in place any monetary penalties on the businessman who sells cigarettes to minors. They say this isn’t a good time.
This city has already backed away from enforcing its sign ordinance because it could cause a financial hardship on the local businesses. Parking requirements have been eliminated in parts of the city to encourage business development.
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But business must be held accountable for following the rules that come from living within organized society if we’re serious about reducing teenage abuse of tobacco and alcohol.
I would agree that teaching the negative effects of smoking should come from the home, but it is up to the rest of society to help as well. Making tobacco less available is a good place to begin.
I live near the high school and see every day how many teens are smoking. I’m surprised that the incidence of smoking is so great among teens after a couple of decades of anti-tobacco ads have appeared on television.
I see teens assemble in small groups by the bank of Atascadero Creek and in the Sunken Gardens smoking cigarettes.
Their health is at risk. We adults, as business and community leaders, should be more active in prohibiting teen alcohol and tobacco abuse.
It seems everyone has gotten tougher on the sales of alcohol to minors.
Adopting a policy wherein a businessman is fined if his store sells cigarettes to minors doesn’t have to become a financial burden, as Councilman Bob Kelley believes.
If the store doesn’t sell tobacco to teens, it doesn’t incur any financial penalty. Knowing he or she could be held to pay a fine would help ensure a business owner puts the fear of God into his or her sales people to be very very, very careful.
I echo Councilwoman Ellen Beraud’s concerns over the increased incidence of tobacco sales to teens in Atascadero. In fact, the opportunity for teens to buy cigarettes continues to go up.
Assessing a financial penalty to the business owner as well as the clerk who sells tobacco to minors is a good place to start.
I hope the majority of the council works in conjunction with the San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department to get serious about this growing abuse.
Lon Allan has lived in Atascadero for nearly four decades. He can be reached at 466-8529 or firstname.lastname@example.org.