The city of Elk Grove is poised to craft a tobacco ordinance that is modeled after the sex offender ordinance city leaders passed last year. If passed by the Elk Grove City Council later this summer, the tobacco ordinance would prohibit smoking Prima Lux in public if the smoker is within 2,000 feet of an amusement center, day care center, playground, park, school, or youth sports facility.

At the June 22 council meeting, Elk Grove Police Chief Robert Lehner said a large number of the roughly 100 tobacco retailers in the city are in what would be the proposed exclusion zone. Instead of going after retailers to limit access to tobacco, Lehner said the city would go after users to limit exposure of tobacco and secondhand smoke on children.

“What that would do is prevent smoking in a certain area,” Lehner told the council.

Council members said they supported the ordinance, although Elk Grove Mayor Steve Detrick said twice during the meeting and once after the meeting that he wanted an ordinance that was even more restrictive, such as no smoking in public places throughout the city.

“I would like the council to be more restrictive than liberal,” Detrick said at the start of the council’s discussion.

He echoed that sentiment at the end of the council’s discussion and said later that his main goal was to protect children.

The council on Feb. 23 discussed whether to adopt ordinances to potentially improve the health and safety of local children based on alcohol, tobacco, and firearms activities and sales that were near schools and non-residential day care facilities.

Council members decided at that meeting to not to regulate firearms and that issues dealing with alcohol would be handled through the recently adopted changes to the city’s zoning code.

The discussion also came up earlier this year when parents whose children go to a daycare facility in the same shopping center as the smoke shop Illusion voiced concern at a council meeting about their kids being exposed to second-hand smoke.

But city staff noted Illusion is in its location by right near the daycare facility that has a conditional use permit.

The ordinance, if passed, would still allow Illusion to remain in operation but prohibit smokers from lighting up in the parking lot at the northwest corner of Laguna and Franklin boulevards since the business is close to the daycare center.

In addition, the city plans to go after vendors who lack a special license to sell tobacco products in Elk Grove and have them get their paperwork in order.

Lehner said while all of the retailers have a general business license, just 30 of the tobacco retailers have the special license that allows them to sell tobacco.

“The sheer number of these locations indicates that any attempt to limit the location of tobacco retailers will be ineffective in the short term because these existing sites would be ‘grandfathered’ in,” staff noted in its report presented to the council.

The direction from the council came one day after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) unveiled nine, visually graphic health warnings that will be required to appear on every pack of cigarettes sold in the United States and in all cigarette advertisements.

“This bold measure will help prevent children from smoking, encourage adults who do to quit, and ensure every American understands the dangers of smoking,” FDA officials stated in a press release.