Council bans cigarette vending machines
Cigarette vending machines are out, and tobacco will soon be moving behind store counters in Laguna Beach.
The City Council on Tuesday unanimously voted to remove all tobacco vending machines from the city to help prevent teenage smoking.
The new code, which makes it a misdemeanor to place tobacco within the public's reach, has some vendors wondering if the measure is another tactic by the city to impose fines on them.
Other provisions of the new law require vendors to post signs that display age and identification requirements for tobacco purchases. Also, vendors cannot sell products that are not in their original packaging with the required health warnings.
"I don't think it will affect business," said Elmo Decker, owner of Arch Bay Liquor Store on South Coast Highway. "But it's another angle that the city can come out and stick a fine on us for. It's something that's off the wall. It's kind of dumb. Kids are going to get cigarettes anyway someplace."
Resident Cynthia Schafer, who proposed the measure to the council in November, said the vote is a victory for Laguna Beach teens.
"If kids can be kept from smoking until they're old enough to realize they can get addicted, maybe they won't start," she said.
Schafer, who is a board member of the Saddleback Valley Unit of the American Cancer Society, said her next goal is getting the council to enact a special tobacco license for city businesses.
Councilwoman Toni Iseman, an ex-smoker, and it is "very difficult to take smokers and convince them that they are pawns to a major industry who doesn't care about them."
Police Chief Jim Spreine said volunteers or members of his staff will go door-to-door, alerting vendors about the new code when the measure goes into effect in about six weeks.