Guadalupe City Council votes on unprecedented tobacco ordinance

Guadalupe wants an A rating from the American Lung Association, and voted on a comprehensive tobacco ordinance June 23 that would be the most stringent in the county.

“The American Lung Association gave us an F rating, and then I discovered that the city doesn’t even have a tobacco ordinance,” Guadalupe City Manager Todd Bodem said of the impetus for the new ordinance. “I brought it to the attention of the council, and the majority of the council said they would like to see an A grade.”

Shantal Hover-Jones, program coordinator for the county’s Tobacco Prevention Program & Cannabis Education Program, explained that the American Lung Association’s rating system is largely based on how strong a city’s tobacco rules and regulations are, particularly by considering what secondhand smoke protections and retail regulations are in place. 

“We work as a tobacco program to assist our cities in raising that grade by passing comprehensive tobacco ordinances that protect the public from the harmful effects of tobacco,” she said. 

If passed, Guadalupe’s new ordinance doesn’t just match the efforts of surrounding cities, but actually surpasses them, Hover-Jones said.

“[Guadalupe] hadn’t tackled this yet, but now they’ve tackled it in a really big way: They’ve put forth this ordinance that actually addresses every single part of that report card, which we’ve never seen done in our county before,” she said. “It’s one large ordinance that basically covers secondhand smoke protections in the public and in multi-unit housing. Then it also does all kinds of wonderful things in the retail environment: Getting rid of flavored tobacco licensing retailers so that they’re held accountable to not sell to underage people, banning the sale in pharmacies, and the list goes on.”

Among those advocating to pass the ordinance is the Youth Action Coalition of Fighting Back Santa Maria, a group of “local junior high and high school students who are motivated about taking a stand against violence, drugs, and alcohol in their schools and community,” its website states. 

The coalition brought a YouTube video to the June 9 City Council meeting when the city first read the ordinance. The video features segments compiled by local youth advocating for the city to pass the ordinance.

“Secondhand smoke causes numerous irreversible health problems to infants and children, such as frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory infections, ear infections, sudden infant death syndrome, damage to the arteries, increasing risk of heart attack, and may cause a stroke as an adult” one student said in the video.

“Because 30 percent of our population is 18 and under, I think it’s important that it catches the youth,” Bodem said. “That’s the goal of it: You’re keeping the minimum prices of these cigarettes so that it’s cost ineffective for them to really want to buy them, and then getting rid of all these flavored and vaping products.”

When a comprehensive tobacco ordinance like this one passes, Hover-Jones said her team works with the city to implement it through public education, talking to landlords and apartment complex owners about how it will change their policies with tenants, and reaching out to retailers. 

The City Council planned to vote on the ordinance on June 23 after the Sun went to press. Check out for an update. 

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