DUBLIN -- Enacting one of the East Bay's strictest tobacco ordinances, the City Council gave final approval Tuesday to rules barring new tobacco sellers from opening near schools, parks or day care centers.
The council, which hopes the rules will deter youngsters from taking up smoking, also banned smoking in public parks and set up a city licensing system for 25 tobacco retailers in the city. The businesses will be required to pay fees to fund decoy visits to stores to check for illegal sales to minors.
The 4-1 vote came after little discussion, in stark contrast to the many long and spirited meetings held over the past year about the tobacco sales rules.
Councilman Kevin Hart voted no, saying he sympathizes with efforts to reduce smoking among youth but thinks the council went too far in restricting businesses.
"It's anti-business," Hart said in a council meeting last month. "If you want a cigarette and you can't get one in Dublin, you will go somewhere else, and we would lose the revenue."
Councilwoman Kasie Hildenbrand, who spearheaded the ordinance, has repeatedly argued that the stricter rules will lead to less youth exposure to tobacco and a lower smoking rate.
"It is highly addictive," Hildenbrand said last month. "Smoking kills."
The ordinance takes effect in 30 days, limiting where stores selling tobacco can open.
New tobacco retailers cannot open within 1,000 feet of schools or within 500 feet
The new zoning law also bars new tobacco shops from opening within 1,000 feet of another tobacco retailer.
Serena Chen, the American Lung Association's policy director for the Bay Area, said the Dublin ordinance is an important health protection measure.
Tobacco is widely available to minors because the state has a weak enforcement program to catch stores that sell cigarettes illegally, Chen said.
The fees collected under the Dublin tobacco licensing system, she said, will provide funds to beef up use of youth decoys to catch illegal sales.
Chen said Dublin joins other cities with tough tobacco sales ordinances, including Berkeley, Concord, Oakland, Richmond and Union City.
No tobacco retailers spoke Tuesday night.
Earlier this year, the council had expressed interest in restricting sales at existing businesses near schools and parks, but the council backed away from the idea that was heavily criticized by stores that sell tobacco.
Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267. Follow him at Twitter.com/deniscuff.