Mayor Termini Talks Tightening Tobacco Policies

Capitola Mayor Mike Termini has mixed feelings when it comes to the American Lung Association's assessment of Capitola's tobacco control.

Back in mid-January, the American Lung Association released its State of Tobacco Control 2012 Report, grading the tobacco policies in every incorporated city throughout California.

. While that score is higher than 66 percent of the state, it certainly begs for some improvement. To see the breakdown of the score, .

According to Capitola Mayor Mike Termini, the D is a bit misleading, as it is a reflection of Capitola's refusal to enact a policy forcing tobacco-selling retailers to pay an annual license fee for the right to sell those products. Termini said the American Lung Association has consistently called him once a year to lobby for the licenses.

See the highlights of Patch's conversation with Termini regarding tobacco enforcement in Capitola below: 

Capitola-Soquel Patch: Why have you been against the tobacco licensing?

Mayor Mike Termini: Because we are very reluctant to put another license or tax on anyone. It means that retailers would pay a fee to be part of a tobacco program, just like in Watsonville. We always shy away from it because it just doesn't feel right.

Patch: Does it feel like meddling on the part of the city?

Termini: Yes, it does. Our law enforcement does a lot of sting operations with alcohol and tobacco, and our retailers score consistently high. This layer of licensing and taxing irritates me a little bit. What [the ALA is] looking for ... is coordination. They've got it from Watsonville. They're looking to fill in the blanks.

Patch: The ALA gave Capitola a D. What grade would you give the city for its tobacco policies?

Termini: I would say it's a B, but that's just me. I'm very proud of the fact that we banned smoking on the beach years ago and then the sidewalks on the beach and the parks. I think we fail with enforcement. We don't really enforce the ban that we're so proud of. ... I'm patting myself on the back and kicking myself on the butt at the same time. We stepped out and we made a statement, but were we able to back it up with enforcement? No. 

Patch: Capitola received an F for its outdoor dining smoke-free air. But presumably that includes places like , where smoking outdoors is already illegal.

Termini: I was at Zelda's today just walking around, and realized they have ashtrays out there. So yes, it is against the law. No, it's certainly not enforced.

Patch: What about other areas that they say need improvement like tobacco sales near schools, smoking in housing unit common areas and smoking at public events?

Termini: Seeing [] is an eye-opener. There are grades here in areas that I hadn't thought of controlling. We need to take a look at this. 

I think we could approach sales in pharmacies and make a good argument that if you're selling drugs to get well, you should probably not sell cigarettes to get sick. Retail licensing rubs me the wrong way, but with sales near schools and parks, we could grandfather people that are in there now, but broaden the radius around schools. Common area smoking in housing units — that would be easy to do.

I like the [idea of enforcement at] public events. ... There are some things here that would be easy to do. Outdoor dining would be pretty easy, even though it's on private property. is great because it gives me things to consider. There are a lot of zeros (F grades) on this list. If there's a zero, there's work to be done. I would be in favor of many of the items on this list. 

Patch: Considering the massive debt that the State of California is in, do you think the cigarette tax (currently 87¢ per pack) should be raised to at least the national average ($1.46)?

Termini: Yes. It's absolutely ridiculous. It should be brought up at least to the national average. ... I don't see any reason why there shouldn't be a $2.50 tax on it. It would absolutely make an impact.

Would you like to see changes made to Capitola's tobacco policies? Should outdoor dining be smoke-free? How about retailers near schools and parks? Tell us in the comments!

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Willow February 02, 2012 at 05:21 PM
I find it interesting that smoking, which is a legal activity, is jumped on so furiously. Noe , I do not smoke, and, yes, I do appreciate smoking bans in public places, restaurants, and other indoor areas. When I do take exception is banning smoking in one's own residence, especially where there are no connecting air vents to other residences. I understand the dangers of second-hand smoke. I also understand that not all smokers are courteous enough to make every effort to keep their smoke away from others. However, adult smokers must take responsibility for their own actions, as should the non-smokers around them. I don't mind the increase sales tax. That, alone, may make smokers stop and think twice before purchasing a pack of cigarettes that already cost $7/pk increased to $9/pk. Maybe that, and not the constant criminalizing of smokers will be the "cure" to new and future smokers, and current smokers the desire to seriously quit.
Cathy P. February 02, 2012 at 07:29 PM
I'm not reading that smokers are being "criminalized," just that they should pay for all the damage their habit does to everyone and everything around them.
Sigil February 02, 2012 at 10:04 PM
That's my understanding too.
Willow February 02, 2012 at 10:37 PM
"Crimalizing" is, perhaps, too harsh of a word, but ask any smoker and he/she will tell you he/she feels almost like a criminal because of the tobacco use. My biggest gripe against smokers is their almost-universal habit of using the world for an ashtray. I find it digusting, as well as harmful to the environment (wildlife, especially), to see cigarette butts on the streets, sidewalks, gutters, pathways, etc. That said, smoking is a legal choice, and with the price of cigarettes constantly climbing, they do "pay" for the damage their habit does to everyone and everything around them. Smoking is no longer considered "cool," unless one happens to be smoking marijuana, a still-illegal substance (which I find rather ironic). It is popular to be anti-smoking, and makes a great political platform since there is definite proof that the habit can be harmful to one's health. However, don't you ever get tired of governments, from city to county to state to federal, becoming your personal nanny?
Jacob Bourne (Editor) February 02, 2012 at 11:27 PM
It may seem overbearing for a city government to step in to regulate a legal activity, but when it comes to cigarettes, it's so sensible. It's one of few legal activities that can harm someone else's health just by being in proximity to someone else engaged in that activity. Of course smoking is legal, but intentionally disregarding the health of everyone in your surroundings should not be. Unfortunately for everyone, those two things conflict. So smoke at home. The City can't make it illegal for someone to smoke inside their own privately-owned home. That will not change. Enforcement in private apartment complexes is a bit trickier, and enforcement in public housing is no problem.
Peking February 02, 2012 at 11:54 PM
I actually saw someone smoking a cigarette standing on a skateboard next to a Smart Meter.This is exactly why we need more government regulation.
Willow February 02, 2012 at 11:56 PM
I do not argue that smoking is hazardous to the health of not only the smoker, but also those who inhale secondhand smoke. My point is that, all levels of government are assuming the role of "nanny" to adults who should be resonsible for their own actions. Until smoking is considered illegal, smokers should have some rights. I find it curious that smoking marijuana,an illegal drug, is considered a healthy activity ("medical marijuana"), whereas smoking of tobacco, a legal activity, governmental steps are constantly being taken to ban the activity, if not outlaw it completely. As for smoking inside one's own residence, I find it arrogrant that apartment complexes can choose to limit the lawful activities of people in their apartments, providing there are no connecting air ducts, and no smoking in communal areas. I cannot see how a legal activity, such as smoking, can be banned outside of apartments, in an area away from the apartments themselves. I understand non-smoking on patio areas as patios can be in close proximity of each other. But a designated outside smoking area away from the building should be available (with the understanding of no children permitted). You understand, what I am saying is that adults should not be treated like children who have to be reminded not to put their hands over an open flame. Adults should be treated like adults, and should be responsible for their actions. It just is irritating to see yet another nanny action by city government.
Jacob Bourne (Editor) February 03, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Peking, that is pretty wild — a real-life picture of three hot issues in Capitola right now. Willow, I totally hear you on feeling like the city government is taking on a parent role. But do you see an alternative when so many smokers clearly can't police themselves and be respectful of everyone else?
Willow February 03, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Several years ago, a friend tossed a lit cigarette out a car window. Fortunately, a policeman in a cruiser saw it, pulled him over, and gave him a citation that covered not only a flaming object but also littering. The fine was steeped. Forever after, and to this day, my friend uses his ashtray, both in his car and elsewhere. In public, he field strips his cigaretts and disposes of them in appropriate recepticles. There is your answer . . . cite those who toss down cigarettes, and not only will it be a lesson learned, it will also increase the city coffers. Yes, I know that not all offenders can be caught and cited. It would require the entire police force 24/7, and then not all would be cited. However, enough of that enforcement there would be a good measure of responsibility by smokers. Can't hurt to try, right?
Michael Termini February 06, 2012 at 09:43 PM
This subject will appear on our agenda in the next few months. Mike Termini


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