Officials said that since 2003, tobacco shops owners who sold tobacco products in San Francisco have had to apply for a special permit. This special permission process helps The City keep track of sellers and took severe measures against those vending stores to minors.
But today there is too much permission, especially in low-income neighborhoods, according to anti-tobacco scientists, who have proposed a new legislation that would greatly curtail the number of stores that sell tobacco.
An initial proposal imposes a cap of 35 permits for each of the 11 examiners districts, 385 total in The City. That is a more than a two-thirds reduction from the 1,097 stores at present selling smoking products citywide.
In general the new proposal would not take away permissions from businesses. However it would reduce them through breakdown until there are no more than 35 per district. Also, the owners would not be able to transmit the permits when they sell their stores.
Matt Rosen, senior director of community programs for the Youth Leadership Institute, said that the new legislation might limit alternatives for smokers, but it would also limit tobacco exposure to children.
The legislation is still being examined and has not been approved yet by supervisors.
The antagonists of the new proposal, mainly from the small-business community, said that the bill would only harm the health of retailers in The City.
Jimmy Shamieh, president of the Arab American Grocers Association, explained that for most stores, approximately 30 percent of the revenue is tobacco-related. That’s why he has proposed alternative legislation that bans new permits but allows a transfer to new owners.
He added that the stores become valueless when owners cannot transmit their tobacco permit to a person who wants to purchase the tobacco outlets.
Even though small-business advocates do not like the proposal, they said that they are all for limiting tobacco sales in The City.
Scientists concluded that the legislation to reduce the number of stores that can sell cigarettes is the latest attack against tobacco in The City.