While the City of Hollister mulls direction on consideration of a possible flavored tobacco ban, a town hall meeting is scheduled for later this month on the topic.
The town hall is set for 6 p.m. April 17 at the Veterans Memorial Building, 649 San Benito St. in Hollister.
The meeting’s purpose is to receive input about the potential changes to the current tobacco retail licensing and ordinance regarding flavored tobacco, with public health officials noting an increase in teen use.
Hollister City Council members in early February took the first step toward a possible ban or regulations on sales of flavored tobacco.
Council members heard from the public and provided direction to City Manager Bill Avera to organize a committee to formulate a proposed ordinance. He said he would include members of a local youth committee and others on the panel, which would make a recommendation to the council at a future date.
That came after Councilman Marty Richman suggested an emergency ban, which didn’t gain enough support for approval, and said he would support restricting such sales to tobacco shops that are better equipped to screen customers.
Councilwoman Honor Spencer said she supported an all-out ban.
Mayor Ignacio Velazquez and Councilwoman Carol Lenoir said they support more restrictions on the stores but wasn’t specific.
Police Chief David Westrick, in responding to a question from Councilman Rolan Resendiz in the February meeting, said the police department issues two or three citations per week for underage possession of tobacco products.
The San Benito County Public Health Department and local youths had requested the agenda topic. It came in light of consideration at the state level for a similar ban, while about 30 communities in California currently maintain a ban or restrictions for flavored tobacco.
If the council chooses restrictions over a ban, an example in other areas is disallowing sales within a certain distance from schools. An ordinance banning flavored tobacco products is subject to a referendum, like in San Francisco where voters approved one in June.