South City tobacco shops extinguished 

South San Francisco officials have temporarily snuffed out the possibility of having more than one smoke shop in their city. City Council members, worried about the effects of paraphernalia on the city’s youth, extended a ban on the issuance of licenses and permits for stores that sell tobacco.

The ordinance, which passed unanimously Wednesday, will extend an existing ban on retail tobacco stores for 10½ months. An initial 45-day ordinance would have expired July 23.

The new ban defines a “retail tobacco store” as one that devotes more than 15 percent of its total floor area or a 2-by-4-foot section of shelf space for “display and sale of tobacco accessories or paraphernalia.”

Gerry Beaudin, senior planner for the Department of Economic and Community Development, said several properties that sell tobacco and marijuana paraphernalia products have popped up in the city. “The extension will give us time to see what the implications of this are,” Beaudin said.

Councilwoman Karyl Matsumoto said the city’s one existing smoke shop is located in a family-oriented neighborhood. “I believe there is even a karate school a few doors down,” she said, expressing concern for children who might be tempted to hang out by the store.

According to a staff report presented to the council, “permitting the sale of tobacco and/or tobacco paraphernalia, may promote the consumption and purchase of tobacco by children and minors by increasing their exposure to tobacco and tobacco paraphernalia, which may result in threats to public health, safety and welfare.”

Vice Mayor Richard Garbarino shared a concern about the possible effect of such businesses on children.

“We need to do more to educate kids in the third, fourth and fifth grades,” Garbarino said. “We need to use our dollars to educate about the ills of smoking. This is not the kind of business we want in our city. This is not the kind of message we want to send. … I feel that I have a responsibility to put a stop to this whenever and wherever I can. That motivated me to take a look at it.”

Matsumoto, the ban’s sponsor, said, “I don’t want to restrict trade; I just want some control over where shops are allowed.”

The owner of the one such preexisting business, Galaxxi Smoke Shop on Hazelwood Drive, declined to discuss the ban.

“The moratorium does not affect the one smoke shop that currently exists,” Beaudin noted. “It will continue to exist, it had already been approved.”

mbaum@sfexaminer.com

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Margaret Baum

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