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    Calif. City Looks to License Tobacco Retailers

    Proposed ordinance would give Burbank authority to penalize merchants who sell cigarettes to minors.

    BURBANK, Calif. -- The Burbank City Council is considering an ordinance to regulate tobacco retailers as a way to curb the sale of cigarettes to minors.

    Under the proposed ordinance, discussed by the council and city staff Tuesday night, merchants would be required to secure a license in order to sell tobacco products, reports the Burbank Leader. Elaine Pease, senior license and code services inspector, said local legislation would allow the city to issue fines and possibly revoke the licenses of retailers who repeatedly sell tobacco products to underage customers. "Right now, state law covers this, but if we enact our own ordinance, we can make it stronger," she said.

    Pease told the council an ordinance could outlaw mobile outlets such as ice-cream trucks from selling cigarettes. Currently, 24 cities in California require tobacco retailers to be licensed, including Los Angeles. Officials from the American Heart Association and the Valley Community Clinic attended Tuesday's meeting and expressed support for the ordinance.

    According to the report, there are between 300 and 400 establishments in Burbank that sell tobacco products. Pease said the initial costs of inspecting and licensing each establishment could be significant. However, Burbank Mayor Stacey Murphy expressed concerns about the amount of staff time it would take to monitor the licenses.

    Depending on how high the license fee was set, Pease said fees generated from licensing could balance the cost of operating such a program. The cost of a tobacco license in other California cities that have enacted a regulation varies, with the highest being $283 per year in Berkeley, the report said. The council is set to vote on the proposal in August.

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