Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager will propose an ordinance Tuesday that would ban tobacco and e-cigarette sales to anyone under 21. Yeager says the county needs to pass this to combat “Big Tobacco’s” increased effort to hook young people on nicotine.
"When you're 21 and over, you're much more able to have a tobacco product and not get addicted to it as opposed to when you're 16 or 17," Yeager said.
If approved, the ordinance would affect 25 stores in unincorporated Santa Clara County. Most of those stores are in places like San Martin and the Burbank neighborhood within San Jose.
Ravi Manrao, who co-owns a liquor and grocery store in the Burbank neighborhood, said his sales would drop under the ordinance while neighboring cities would not be affected.
"[People] will just cross the boundary line, which is just two streets on the other side," Manrao said. "And they will buy the same product."
Healdsburg in Sonoma County is the first and only city in California to raise the age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21.
Yeager hopes his proposal will start a trend.
"Even though we know our ordinance here may not have a wide effect, its real benefit is to have all the other cities follow suit," Yeager said. "And I'm hopeful that they will."
Yeager says he has support from councilmembers in San Jose and Palo Alto.
Supervisors will discuss the ordinance Tuesday and could pass a final version of it next month.