The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Second Hand Smoke

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


The California Assembly proposed Senate Bill 1400, introduced by Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont), which would have limited the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products to specified “tobacco stores,” that prohibit customers under the age of 21 and generate more than 60 percent of their annual revenue from tobacco.

Sen. Wieckowski has said that the bill would reduce children’s exposure to tobacco, the same argument lawmakers made when they raised the smoking age to 21 this year. However, Sen. Wieckowski’s “good intentions” notwithstanding, committee members thought the bill went too far in hurting small businesses.

According to the analysis done by the Committee on Business and Professions, more than 30,000 retailers, including grocery stores and gas stations, would lose their ability to sell tobacco. Leaving approximately 2,200 existing tobacco stores and perhaps another 7,000 new locations that might open, thus curtailing purchasing options considerably.

Small businesses like Freemont Market (a Sacramento-based convenience store) stated that they will lose approximately 25% of their revenue from cigarette sales alone. Then there are the ancillary purchases. When people buy cigarettes, they might buy other items, such as drinks, chips, lighters, or even lotto tickets. The net losses to small businesses would have been too costly under this legislation.

The California Assembly agreed. The proposed restriction was so unpopular with California lawmakers that it couldn’t even get a vote during the committee hearing on June 28, 2016. When Assembly members remained silent to his call for a motion to vote on the bill, Committee Chair Ruby Salas (D-Bakersfield) announced that “seeing and hearing none, the measure fails,” as small business owners in the audience rejoiced.

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