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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