Sell tobacco to a kid in Los Angeles and you’ll soon get a month-long time out.
The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved tougher penalties for retailers found to have sold tobacco products to minors. Under the new rules, the city can immediately suspend a retailer’s tobacco-selling license for 30 days after the first violation.
That’s a change from the city’s current rules, which give retailers a warning after a first offense and a 30-day suspension for a second violation.
Now, a second violation would result in a 90-day suspension and a third would lead to a 120-day suspension. If a retailer commits four violations within a five-year period, its license would be permanently revoked.
Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, who introduced the measure, said in his motion that the tougher penalties were necessary because 24 percent of Los Angeles tobacco retailers have been caught selling tobacco products to minors – that’s about three times the statewide average.
Local tobacco retailers have said they already try their best to train their employees to recognize minors and that taking away the warning notices would force them to do even more training.
But city officials showed little sympathy.
“The city’s ordinance has been in effect for over 15 years – retailers have had sufficient time to understand that it is illegal to sell tobacco to children and will no longer be given a warning,” City Attorney Mike Feuer said last month in a Business Journal article on the tougher penalties.