Skip to code content (skip section selection)
The Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco hereby finds and declares as follows:
(a) Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and kills nearly 6 million people each year globally (World Health Organization 2013). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 400,000 deaths in the United States each year are attributable to tobacco use, including one-third of all cancer deaths.
(b) In addition to the obvious adverse health impact, tobacco related death and disease have an adverse economic impact. The CDC reports that tobacco use costs the United States billions of dollars each year.
(c) State law prohibits the sale or furnishing of cigarettes, tobacco products and smoking paraphernalia to minors, as well as the purchase, receipt, or possession of tobacco products by minors. (California Penal Code section 308.) State law also prohibits public school students from smoking or using tobacco products while on campus, attending school-sponsored activities, or under the supervision or control of school district employees. (California Education Code section 48901(a).) In addition, state law prohibits smoking in enclosed places of employment (California Labor Code section 6404.5). Moreover, San Francisco has adopted ordinances that ban cigarette vending machines in the City (Health Code Article 19D), prohibit pharmacy sales of Tobacco Products (Health Code Article 19J), prohibit the self-service merchandising of Tobacco Products, except in places to which access by minors is prohibited by law (Police Code Section 4600.3), prohibit smoking in enclosed areas and sports stadiums (Health Code Article 19F) and prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes where smoking is not allowed (Health Code Article 19N).
(d) Despite these state and local restrictions, minors continue to obtain cigarettes and other Tobacco Products at alarming rates. 36.8% of California youth have smoked an entire cigarette by age 14 according to a 2012 survey conducted by the California Department of Public Health. The former United States Surgeon General Regina Benjamin at a February 2014 summit emphasized that the key factor in the fight against tobacco is preventing minors from becoming smokers. She noted, "for every smoker who dies, there are two so-called replacement smokers trying a cigarette for the first time and getting hooked."
(e) Although it is unlawful to sell Tobacco Products and/or tobacco paraphernalia to minors, in a 2013 California youth buying survey, 7.6% of retailers surveyed unlawfully sold Tobacco Products to minors. These percentages are more concerning locally. San Francisco's Tobacco Sales to minors were reported to be 13.4% of retailers in 2012. Notably, sales in the City to minors are well above the 2012 statewide sales rate of 8.7%. More aggressive policies are needed to keep San Francisco's youth from gaining access to Tobacco Products.
(f) There are approximately 1,001 outlets in San Francisco that are licensed to sell tobacco, that is about 1 retailer for every 111 youth in the community compared to California generally where there are approximately 36,700 licensed tobacco retail stores in California – one for every 254 youth.
(g) San Francisco has a substantial interest in promoting compliance with State laws prohibiting sales of cigarettes and Tobacco Products to minors, in promoting compliance with laws intended to discourage the purchase of Tobacco Products by minors, and in protecting our children from illegally obtained tobacco.
(h) Social norms about smoking influence smoking rates, particularly among those not addicted. Studies have found that strong governmental regulation of smoking corresponds with and may contribute to anti-smoking norms. Social unacceptability has been repeatedly shown to be an important influence on both smoking rates and anti-smoking norms. Children and young people are particularly influenced by cues suggesting smoking is acceptable.
(i) Empirical research connects lower densities of retail outlets with lower consumption of tobacco, particularly among youth. Higher tobacco retail density encourages smoking by making cigarettes more accessible and available, by normalizing tobacco use, and through increasing environmental cues to smoke. Research focused on California has found a higher prevalence of current smoking and experimental smoking among students at schools in areas with a higher density of tobacco outlets. Prevalence of smoking was higher among students at schools in neighborhoods with five or more stores that sell tobacco than among students at schools in neighborhoods without any stores that sell tobacco.
(j) California communities in lower socioeconomic areas with a higher concentration of convenience stores have significantly higher rates of smoking. Residents of these neighborhoods are more at risk for tobacco related disease and death. Likewise, San Francisco's most disadvantaged neighborhoods are disproportionately impacted by high tobacco retail density. The six supervisorial districts with the highest proportions of tobacco retail sales by population (Districts 3, 5, 6, 9, 10, and 11) also have the lowest median household incomes in the City. District Six, with a median household income of $38,610, has 270 tobacco permits while District Two, with a median household income of $102,457, has only 51 tobacco permits. African American and Latino residents are more likely to live in districts with the highest number of tobacco retail outlets.
(k) As the tobacco related public health crisis affects all supervisorial districts in San Francisco, it is in the City's interest to reduce the disproportionate exposure to tobacco outlets that exists among supervisorial districts and to minimize exposure in all supervisorial districts by limiting the number of new tobacco permits issued. District Seven currently has the lowest number (37) of tobacco permitted retailers in San Francisco. Setting a cap slightly above the District Seven density of permitted tobacco retailers as the maximum for each supervisorial district will begin to address the disparity of exposure to tobacco outlets among supervisorial districts and reduce the density of tobacco vendors overall.
(l) San Franciscans support limiting and reducing the number of permits for the sale of tobacco. In a 2012 representative survey of over 220 San Francisco residents, 88.5% felt that too many stores selling cigarettes is bad for community health; almost 74% would support a law that very gradually reduces the number of stores selling cigarettes and Tobacco Products given that the highest density of these is in low income neighborhoods; and 87% would support a policy that would reduce the amount of Tobacco Products available.
(m) Restaurants, and other non-traditional tobacco retailers in California are more likely to sell tobacco to minors than other retailers. 13.1% percent of restaurants and other nontraditional retailers sold tobacco to minors compared to 8.7% of all other California retailers.
(n) Young adult Bar patrons in one California study reported a current smoking rate of 47 percent, nearly four times the 2010 state rate of smoking prevalence for young adults.
(o) Social environments such as Bars and clubs are important venues for public health efforts to address young adult smoking.
(p) This Article 19H is designed to promote the public interest in ensuring that San Francisco businesses operate in compliance with applicable laws regulating tobacco, including laws prohibiting the sale of tobacco to minors and laws regulating smoking.
(Added as Sec. 1009.50 by Ord. 254-03, File No. 030869, App. 11/7/2003; redesignated and amended by Ord. 259-14 , File No. 141098, App. 12/19/2014, Eff. 1/18/2015)