ANTIOCH -- Plans to open shops that sell tobacco and related products in this city may soon go up in smoke.
Antioch's leaders will consider a temporary moratorium Tuesday night that prohibits new "smoke shops" from opening for 45 days.
The City Council will meet at 7 p.m. in the council chamber, 200 H St.
Youth exposure to tobacco products is one of the primary reasons the council is considering the ban. Of the 12 smoke shops in Antioch, seven are within blocks of schools. Meanwhile, minors who try to buy tobacco products in Contra Costa County, mainly cigarettes, are successful almost a quarter of the time, according to county health studies cited in a city staff report.
"I don't like the idea of smoke shops being near the skate park or schools. I'm really protective of our students and kids," Mayor Wade Harper said. "I'm leaning toward (the moratorium), but I want to hear what the community has to say and weigh the pros and cons."
Antioch has received "numerous complaints" over the past few years about loitering and crime outside smoke shops, Community Development Director Tina Wehrmeister said in a staff report.
Police received 96 calls for service at Antioch smoke shops in the past year, including incidents of burglary, robbery, fights among juveniles, assault, panhandling and passing counterfeit bills.
Additionally, city staff has expressed concern that the shops are not complying with state law. A recent code enforcement inspection of 10 retailers found that all of them violated state and local laws requiring that paraphernalia, or equipment, products or materials intended for use of a controlled substance, be kept and displayed in a separate room or enclosure, Wehrmeister said.
"The stores usually have pipes or materials that are used for other reasons," Mayor Pro Tem Mary Rocha said. "They're legal to sell, but you know what they are being sold for. It's not something we want to promote."
The 45 days gives staff time to study and revise issues such as the hours of operation, concentration of locations and proximity to schools and parks, and whether the city should adjust its rules accordingly.
As for existing smoke shops, staff is reviewing regulations and compliance, including whether further public nuisance provisions would be "appropriate and legal," Wehrmeister said.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.
What: Antioch City Council meeting
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Council chamber, 200*St.
More information: 925-779-7009; www.ci.antioch.ca.us.