MASCOT Reviews Santa Fe's Tobacco Product Placement Ordinance

New Ordinance Forces Tobacco Behind Counter
By TOM SHARPE/The New Mexican
March 26, 2002

NOTE: In 1998, MASCOT lobbied the Albuquerque City Council successfully to obtain a tobacco product placement ordinance. The bill passed the full Albuquerque Cty Council October 5, 1998, and went into effective on December 28, 1998. Santa Fe passed similar legislation in March 2002. We provide the details of the Santa Fe policy process, as written by Tom Sharpe:

Santa Fe retailers will have to keep tobacco products behind counters, according to an ordinance approved unanimously Monday by the Santa Fe City Council.

Peter DeBenedittis of the Santa Fe Tobacco-Free Coalition showed the council a CBS News video clip about how frequently teen-agers shoplift cigarettes to get around the ban on those under 18 purchasing tobacco products. The clip reported that tobacco companies pay extra for up-front placement of cigarettes. DeBenedittis said these companies want to get young people addicted to tobacco, even if the placement causes an increase in shoplifting.

Coalition member Judith Salazar, a student at Capital High School, said she often wonders how her fellow students obtain cigarettes so easily. "This is going to become a major problem in the future," Salazar said. "Our community needs to come together and put our foot down."

The ordinance prohibits self-service merchandising of tobacco cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, smokeless tobacco, snuff or any other form of tobacco. It requires all sales of such products to be vendor-assisted. It requires retailers to inspect the driver's licenses or other identifications to see whether purchasers are 18 years old or older if the purchaser appears to be under 27.

It prohibits the sale of tobacco products in any form other than an original factory-wrapped package and bans tobacco-vending machines except in places not open to the general public, places that serve alcohol or other places where those under 18 are not allowed except with parents or guardians.

Owners of such machines are required to remove them within three months of the ordinance becoming law. Other regulations of the new ordinance become law five days after it is published in its final form.

The city code-enforcement division will be responsible for enforcing the new ordinance, which carries a fine of up to $500 and up to 90 days in jail for any adult violating the new provisions. The ordinance levies a fine of up to $100 and up to 48 hours of community service for violations by anyone under the age of 18.