News

With new vaping ban, Palo Alto expects smoke shops to shutter

Council members vote down proposal to exclude adult-only shops

Eager to curb vaping without further harming the local economy, Palo Alto's elected leaders agonized on Monday night over a seemingly impossible question: How can you ban sales of vaping products without killing off smoke shops that depend on these sales?

After hours of debate, the council voted 4-3 to move ahead with a ban on electronic cigarettes and flavored tobacco. In doing so, it rejected a proposal from city staff to exempt from the ban adult-only stores that would likely have to shutter as a result of the ban. Once the ban takes effect later this year, it would leave Palo Alto with one of the region's most stringent prohibitions on vaping, effectively banning sales of all vaping equipment and flavored tobacco throughout the city.

The council approved the ban despite warnings from Assistant Public Works Director Phil Bobel that the prohibition will likely put smoke shops out of business, though some may try to stay alive by relying on other products.

The council's decision to institute a ban on vaping mirrors a similar action taken by Santa Clara County last November. Because Palo Alto has numerous adult-only stores, Public Works staff proposed carving out an exception for them while banning vaping products at other establishments that sell them, including gas stations and convenience stores like 7-Eleven.

The staff recommendation met with significant resistance from school advocates, local parents and health advocates from groups such as the American Cancer Society. Jade Chao, president of the Palo Alto Council of PTAs, was part of a crowd of speakers at the virtual meeting who opposed this exemption for adult-only stores.

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"These shops make it easy for teens to get vaping products by just walking down the street," Chao said. "Parents and students are begging you to please act and send a clear message on teen vaping."

While the council took a unanimous stance against vaping in December, when it directed staff to return with a proposed ordinance, members could not reach consensus over the blanket restriction, which some argued would harm — and possibly kill — local institutions like Mac's Smoke Shop. Mayor Adrian Fine, Vice Mayor Tom DuBois and Councilwoman Liz Kniss all voted against the proposed ordinance, arguing that it goes too far.

Kniss, a retired nurse, called Mac's "a piece of Palo Alto" and noted that many businesses will already be killed off because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fine also suggested that keeping adults from legally purchasing smoking devices is a step too far. He also said he is worried about running stores out of Palo Alto.

"That worries me under any circumstances, but especially these circumstances," Fine said. "It just seems too far. We're saying no tobacco sales in Palo Alto, period. … Will we do the same thing with alcohol in a couple of years? I don't know. It's not exactly what I envision for our community."

DuBois agreed and noted that the businesses that would likely have to shutter have been "responsible stores in our community." According to staff, the ban would particularly hurt Mac's Smoke Shop; Raw Smoke Shop; Red Brick Café & Hookah Nites Lounge; Smoke and More; and Smokes and Vapes. All of these businesses have reported that 60% or more of their revenue is from sales of flavored tobacco or electronic cigarette products to people over age 21.

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"I understand the emotional urge to outright ban all these stores and run them out of town," DuBois said. "I really think it's government overreach and it goes beyond what we need to do to protect kids."

Fine had proposed delaying the implementation date for the new ban until Sept. 1 to give more time to adapt. The proposal fell by a 3-4 vote, with only Kniss and DuBois supporting him.

The four council members who favored the more stringent ban each argued that health consideration should take precedence over business. Each supported moving ahead with the ban, with no exceptions and with as little delay as possible. Councilwoman Lydia Kou made the motion to proceed with the prohibition that will mirror Santa Clara County's and said she hopes business will adapt to the new rules.

"They have adapted in the past and there's a lot at stake," Kou said.

Bobel suggested that places like Mac's, which also sell newspapers, snacks and other products, would probably try to hang on even with the new rules. The three stores that don't have any other products — Raw Smoke Shop, Smoke and More, and Smokes and Vapes — "would probably have to close relatively immediately," he said.

Council members Alison Cormack and Eric Filseth each acknowledged the challenge of passing laws that hurt local businesses during a pandemic. It's "horrible" to have to make things worse, Cormack said.

"But this is a public health issue. … This is not going to solve the problem, but it will send a signal that we want means restriction," Cormack said.

Several retailers pushed back against the new prohibition. Lori Khoury, co-owner of Mac's Smoke Shop, told the council that the store fully supports keeping tobacco products out of the hands of teens by imposing more restrictive measures.

"But we feel a change in the ordinance can best be handled with a scalpel and not a sledgehammer," Khoury said. "This needs to work for both sides."

Lori and Neil Khoury also argued in a letter to the council that taking away the right of stores like Mac's from selling tobacco products "won't solve the teen vaping problem, but it certainly will devastate the livelihood of good upstanding people who aren't responsible for tobacco getting into the hands of teens."

"If Mac's Smoke Shop doesn't receive an exemption from this ordinance, this 85-year-old Palo Alto institution, which has survived World War II, the Vietnam War, the dot-com bust, recessions, etc., will not survive," they wrote.

Other retailers said they support the ban, provided it doesn't include exceptions. Amar Johal, owner of the downtown 7-Eleven, said that when the city banned pharmacies and retailers like his from selling flavored tobacco last year, his store was able to adapt its business model, he said.

However, it could not help customers obtain a less addictive alternative because they were able to just go down the street to an "adult-only" store and get flavored tobacco. Including an exemption, he said, would only divert sales from businesses like his to the handful of "adult-only" stores, he said.

"I'm totally for the ban, as long as exemption is removed," Johal told the council.

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With new vaping ban, Palo Alto expects smoke shops to shutter

Council members vote down proposal to exclude adult-only shops

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, May 19, 2020, 9:54 am

Eager to curb vaping without further harming the local economy, Palo Alto's elected leaders agonized on Monday night over a seemingly impossible question: How can you ban sales of vaping products without killing off smoke shops that depend on these sales?

After hours of debate, the council voted 4-3 to move ahead with a ban on electronic cigarettes and flavored tobacco. In doing so, it rejected a proposal from city staff to exempt from the ban adult-only stores that would likely have to shutter as a result of the ban. Once the ban takes effect later this year, it would leave Palo Alto with one of the region's most stringent prohibitions on vaping, effectively banning sales of all vaping equipment and flavored tobacco throughout the city.

The council approved the ban despite warnings from Assistant Public Works Director Phil Bobel that the prohibition will likely put smoke shops out of business, though some may try to stay alive by relying on other products.

The council's decision to institute a ban on vaping mirrors a similar action taken by Santa Clara County last November. Because Palo Alto has numerous adult-only stores, Public Works staff proposed carving out an exception for them while banning vaping products at other establishments that sell them, including gas stations and convenience stores like 7-Eleven.

The staff recommendation met with significant resistance from school advocates, local parents and health advocates from groups such as the American Cancer Society. Jade Chao, president of the Palo Alto Council of PTAs, was part of a crowd of speakers at the virtual meeting who opposed this exemption for adult-only stores.

"These shops make it easy for teens to get vaping products by just walking down the street," Chao said. "Parents and students are begging you to please act and send a clear message on teen vaping."

While the council took a unanimous stance against vaping in December, when it directed staff to return with a proposed ordinance, members could not reach consensus over the blanket restriction, which some argued would harm — and possibly kill — local institutions like Mac's Smoke Shop. Mayor Adrian Fine, Vice Mayor Tom DuBois and Councilwoman Liz Kniss all voted against the proposed ordinance, arguing that it goes too far.

Kniss, a retired nurse, called Mac's "a piece of Palo Alto" and noted that many businesses will already be killed off because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fine also suggested that keeping adults from legally purchasing smoking devices is a step too far. He also said he is worried about running stores out of Palo Alto.

"That worries me under any circumstances, but especially these circumstances," Fine said. "It just seems too far. We're saying no tobacco sales in Palo Alto, period. … Will we do the same thing with alcohol in a couple of years? I don't know. It's not exactly what I envision for our community."

DuBois agreed and noted that the businesses that would likely have to shutter have been "responsible stores in our community." According to staff, the ban would particularly hurt Mac's Smoke Shop; Raw Smoke Shop; Red Brick Café & Hookah Nites Lounge; Smoke and More; and Smokes and Vapes. All of these businesses have reported that 60% or more of their revenue is from sales of flavored tobacco or electronic cigarette products to people over age 21.

"I understand the emotional urge to outright ban all these stores and run them out of town," DuBois said. "I really think it's government overreach and it goes beyond what we need to do to protect kids."

Fine had proposed delaying the implementation date for the new ban until Sept. 1 to give more time to adapt. The proposal fell by a 3-4 vote, with only Kniss and DuBois supporting him.

The four council members who favored the more stringent ban each argued that health consideration should take precedence over business. Each supported moving ahead with the ban, with no exceptions and with as little delay as possible. Councilwoman Lydia Kou made the motion to proceed with the prohibition that will mirror Santa Clara County's and said she hopes business will adapt to the new rules.

"They have adapted in the past and there's a lot at stake," Kou said.

Bobel suggested that places like Mac's, which also sell newspapers, snacks and other products, would probably try to hang on even with the new rules. The three stores that don't have any other products — Raw Smoke Shop, Smoke and More, and Smokes and Vapes — "would probably have to close relatively immediately," he said.

Council members Alison Cormack and Eric Filseth each acknowledged the challenge of passing laws that hurt local businesses during a pandemic. It's "horrible" to have to make things worse, Cormack said.

"But this is a public health issue. … This is not going to solve the problem, but it will send a signal that we want means restriction," Cormack said.

Several retailers pushed back against the new prohibition. Lori Khoury, co-owner of Mac's Smoke Shop, told the council that the store fully supports keeping tobacco products out of the hands of teens by imposing more restrictive measures.

"But we feel a change in the ordinance can best be handled with a scalpel and not a sledgehammer," Khoury said. "This needs to work for both sides."

Lori and Neil Khoury also argued in a letter to the council that taking away the right of stores like Mac's from selling tobacco products "won't solve the teen vaping problem, but it certainly will devastate the livelihood of good upstanding people who aren't responsible for tobacco getting into the hands of teens."

"If Mac's Smoke Shop doesn't receive an exemption from this ordinance, this 85-year-old Palo Alto institution, which has survived World War II, the Vietnam War, the dot-com bust, recessions, etc., will not survive," they wrote.

Other retailers said they support the ban, provided it doesn't include exceptions. Amar Johal, owner of the downtown 7-Eleven, said that when the city banned pharmacies and retailers like his from selling flavored tobacco last year, his store was able to adapt its business model, he said.

However, it could not help customers obtain a less addictive alternative because they were able to just go down the street to an "adult-only" store and get flavored tobacco. Including an exemption, he said, would only divert sales from businesses like his to the handful of "adult-only" stores, he said.

"I'm totally for the ban, as long as exemption is removed," Johal told the council.

Comments

mom of former vaper
Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 19, 2020 at 10:02 am
mom of former vaper, Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 19, 2020 at 10:02 am
25 people like this

When my son was in high school, he had zero problem buying vape products from multiple stores in Palo Alto (of course, his parents didn't know...)


Nanny state
St. Claire Gardens
on May 19, 2020 at 10:08 am
Nanny state, St. Claire Gardens
on May 19, 2020 at 10:08 am
56 people like this

Who picks? What's next, bacon, beer, salty snacks? Parent your kids, teach them values and let folks run their businesses in conformance with laws.


Simple Solution
Barron Park
on May 19, 2020 at 10:20 am
Simple Solution, Barron Park
on May 19, 2020 at 10:20 am
31 people like this

It's not that big a deal.

By banning vaping products, people can simply return to more traditional tobacco/nicotine laden products (i.e. cigarettes, cigars, pipes etc.).


about time
College Terrace
on May 19, 2020 at 10:38 am
about time, College Terrace
on May 19, 2020 at 10:38 am
43 people like this

My teen got hooked on vaping in HS thanks to Mac's Smoke Shop and can't quit.


Online Name
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 19, 2020 at 10:48 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 19, 2020 at 10:48 am
33 people like this

Destroying businesses like Mac's is a priority during these tough times even though most enforce the adult-only provisions??

Thank heavens PA banned adult-only marijuana dispensaries whose sales are up 400% during Shelter-in-Place, followed by sales of pajamas at a 30% hike, since we obviously don't need the tax revenues.

Seriously, leave adults alone. What's next, banning beer sales that's already illegal for kids?


Simple Solution
Barron Park
on May 19, 2020 at 10:48 am
Simple Solution, Barron Park
on May 19, 2020 at 10:48 am
48 people like this

>> "My teen got hooked on vaping in HS thanks to Mac's Smoke Shop and can't quit."

^^^ Chances are that your teen got hooked on vaping via peer influence, a desire not to smoke or curiosity.

Mac's Smoke Shop is merely a vendor & vaping products are also readily available online.


Silly and destructive
Downtown North
on May 19, 2020 at 10:49 am
Silly and destructive, Downtown North
on May 19, 2020 at 10:49 am
36 people like this

It is self-destructive to smoke. We all know that.

It's also legal, and I cannot believe that - in these times! - the city council would vote to kick stores out of Palo Alto. That's way more destructive than the problem they want to solve (teen vaping). I've never smoked and don't go to any of these shops, but by golly they're here and are productive businesses. Leave them alone.


anonymous
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 19, 2020 at 11:13 am
anonymous, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 19, 2020 at 11:13 am
30 people like this

unreal what a virtuous nanny state this looks like - killing local business would be bad anytime, just look at all the empty storefronts on Cal Ave. But now with a $38 budget deficit that's only going to get worst as more places can't hang on during the SIP?

ban all you want, kids (and adults) will always find a way. this will just send them to sketchier neighborhoods and potentially less safe product from the streets.

don't fool yourselves Palo Alto, you're not helping the kids but you're definitely hurting your so called beloved town.








Out of touch council
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 19, 2020 at 11:27 am
Out of touch council, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 19, 2020 at 11:27 am
32 people like this

The nanny state of Palo alto strikes again. Led by Lydia kuo, the council had voted to drive businesses from the city. And this is after the city pontificates on how we need to preserve mom and pop business in town.
I guess in Palo alto we have a few know it alls, that seem to think that the adults cannot make sensible decisions on their own.


Paly Girl
Midtown
on May 19, 2020 at 11:30 am
Paly Girl, Midtown
on May 19, 2020 at 11:30 am
26 people like this

What a short-sighted ruling. These shops are under strict regulatory guidelines (exactly like liquor stores and grocery stores) to take strong measures to not sell to minors. If they don't, they lose their license and eventually go out of business. Adults who choose to smoke or vape will just order online, circumventing the tax revenue that otherwise would be deposited into the city, county and state coffers.

From what I understand, this is still America and adults are free to make their own choices...and businesses are free to provide goods and services under reasonable and fair regulations.

To the city council - set the parameters, rake in the taxes, and let the free market decide who stays in business.


Father of 3
Midtown
on May 19, 2020 at 11:31 am
Father of 3, Midtown
on May 19, 2020 at 11:31 am
15 people like this

"...taking away the right of stores like Mac's from selling tobacco products 'won't solve the teen vaping problem, but it certainly will devastate the livelihood of good upstanding people who aren't responsible for tobacco getting into the hands of teens.'" True, just responsible for getting tobacco into the hands of adults. "Lung cancer is deadly. Lung cancer is the LEADING cancer killer in both men and women in the U.S. More than half of people with lung cancer die within one year of being diagnosed. In 1987, it surpassed breast cancer to become the leading cause of cancer deaths in WOMEN." Look it up.


TimR
Downtown North
on May 19, 2020 at 12:18 pm
TimR, Downtown North
on May 19, 2020 at 12:18 pm
10 people like this

Smoking is estimated to kill about half a million people a year in the US. In short, far more than the COVID-19 is expected to. So given the current way of thinking, of course smoke shops need to be shut down!


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 19, 2020 at 12:47 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 19, 2020 at 12:47 pm
15 people like this

Most teens who vape do not get them from Mac's or any other store. They get them online or from "friends", siblings, etc.

Personally, I liked Mac's and I have never bought anything there to do with smoking, although I have recommend it to out of town guests who smoked. Mac's has other things, some of which are almost impossible to get locally such as international publications and other imported goods.


"adults"
Mayfield
on May 19, 2020 at 1:42 pm
"adults", Mayfield
on May 19, 2020 at 1:42 pm
32 people like this

Mac's has been selling vaping products to teens with stolen or obviously fake IDs (i.e. height listed as 5'6" for over 6' person) for years. Raw Smoke Shop on Cal Ave does this as well.


Resident
Downtown North
on May 19, 2020 at 2:35 pm
Resident, Downtown North
on May 19, 2020 at 2:35 pm
21 people like this

Who are all these new posters with strange names? Usual Palo Alto Online posters know the general tone and names of their handles.

Facebook Pro vaping Groups are rabidly discussing Palo Alto meeting last night. Expect a flood for these facebook members who don't even live in Palo Alto to post online here.

The parents of kids are too busy right now homeschooling and working to deal with posting on here.

Parents appreciate the councilors who represented us. Don't let these massive amounts of posts by vapers who don't even live in our city make you think the City residents feel the same way. Palo Alto parents celebrate last night's decision by council.


JR
Palo Verde
on May 19, 2020 at 2:44 pm
JR, Palo Verde
on May 19, 2020 at 2:44 pm
23 people like this

Electronic cigarettes are illegally marketed toward youths and designed to addict kids at a young age for their entire lives. They should not be sold over the counter under any circumstances. Good for PA for standing up to the billion dollar tobacco industry who is using this new delivery platform to attempt to addict a new generation.

If smoke shops can’t survive without selling products that are targeted toward kids then the shops don’t deserve to exist..


PA City Nanny Council
Midtown
on May 19, 2020 at 4:42 pm
PA City Nanny Council, Midtown
on May 19, 2020 at 4:42 pm
18 people like this

We in PA have a $40m budget deficit in the middle of a pandemic and something akin to the Great Depression and this is what PA City Nanny Council spends their time on??? Putting MORE small businesses out of business? Of course vaping is horrible and addictive and just plain evil for teens. I'm a parent of a teen. I know firsthand how awful it is. But apparently the PA City Council is too ignorant to know that teens buy it ONLINE! Just like everything else! So PA now has no marijuana dispenseries (even though it's legal), no smoke shops (for adults who can decide for themselves), and a six page mask order (from people with no medical expertise, that's superfluous because the county Health Dept already recommends masks). Are the PA City Nanny Council members seriously this bored that this is all they accomplish right now with a $40m budget deficit to tackle?


Joseph E. Davis
Woodside
on May 19, 2020 at 5:49 pm
Joseph E. Davis, Woodside
on May 19, 2020 at 5:49 pm
15 people like this

The Palo Alto City Council is a disgrace. Adults should make decisions like this for themselves. Not to mention that this is a monumentally terrible time to be outlawing businesses.


atotic
Palo Verde
on May 19, 2020 at 6:19 pm
atotic, Palo Verde
on May 19, 2020 at 6:19 pm
8 people like this

Ridiculous. How can you justify banning vapes, but not tobacco?

I understand that vaping might be more popular tan tobacco among teens. Of course it is, kids are smart and if they are going to do drugs, vaping is the safest choice.

If my kids ever end up doing any, I’d worry much less about vaping, then about tobacco, or liquor. Now we are making the safest choice harder to get.

My guess is that this ban will cause more harm than good.


Online Name
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 19, 2020 at 6:44 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 19, 2020 at 6:44 pm
17 people like this

"Who picks? What's next, bacon, beer, salty snacks? Parent your kids, teach them values and let folks run their businesses in conformance with laws."

Exactly. That plus the insane timing of this is infuriating. Doesn't the CC have anything better to worry about NOW -- like cutting waste in the final budget and helping -- NOT destroying -- our small businesses?

I'll never forget the debate after the state of CA and PA RESIDENTS voted to legalize marijuana for ADULT medical and recreational use. First some in the city proposed that growing marijuana be only allowed inside the homes because neighborhood kids might be tempted to break into our yards and steal the plants. Then they proposed limiting growth to inside the home in LOCKED ROOMS regardless of whether any children lived in that house. Then they reasoned that children MIGHT visit that home and MIGHT be tempted to go rummaging through the hosts' private property!




Get Real
Evergreen Park
on May 19, 2020 at 7:53 pm
Get Real, Evergreen Park
on May 19, 2020 at 7:53 pm
32 people like this

For heaven's sake, who in his right mind - in this day and age, and especially in California - even opens a smoke shop?


DTNResident
Downtown North
on May 19, 2020 at 10:18 pm
DTNResident, Downtown North
on May 19, 2020 at 10:18 pm
13 people like this

Here's the problem. I don't object to the ban per se, but Mac's signed a lease before the ban went into effect based on the laws at the time. Now what are they supposed to do? If they vacate, no retailer is going to take their place during a pandemic only to get the whole business shut down in the second wave. But Mac's will be obligate dot pay its full rent while losing money. This isn't fair to Mac's. The ordinance should be written to allow the business owner to terminate the lease if desired. I abhor smoking, but they were providing a legal product when they signed the lease.


Online Name
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 19, 2020 at 11:21 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 19, 2020 at 11:21 pm
19 people like this

@Get Real, no one's talking about OPENING a smoke shop these days except maybe the VC's who treasure their cigar but it's really outrageous for the CC to move to destroy Mac's, one of the oldest businesses in the city.

You'd think the CC would have other priorities these days.

And if parents can't educate and train their kids, that's their problem and shouldn't have to become mine.


Sarcasm
Old Palo Alto
on May 19, 2020 at 11:50 pm
Sarcasm, Old Palo Alto
on May 19, 2020 at 11:50 pm
5 people like this

We also need to shut down stores that sell flavored alcohol to minors. You’re next Walgreens!


Jay
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 20, 2020 at 9:51 am
Jay, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 20, 2020 at 9:51 am
9 people like this

I remember when you could walk into Macs and get a sports or car magazine, a fine cigar and have a nice conversation with the owner. Good old days!


Member
Adobe-Meadow
on May 20, 2020 at 11:06 am
Member, Adobe-Meadow
on May 20, 2020 at 11:06 am
2 people like this

If school is back then a closed campus is needed to limit exposure to pandemic viruses and dark soulless adults selling damaging drugs to children children are not adults and should have no opportunity to get vaping supplies. The stores violating laws by selling to minors should lose their license.

Police also should just go to Max’s at brunch and lunch at the hs times and enforce codes.


Online Name
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 20, 2020 at 11:35 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 20, 2020 at 11:35 am
14 people like this

Children trying to buy adult-only goods should get also arrested, too, since they're the perps and often look way older than their years.

Seriously, it's worth remembering WHY sales of vapes have soared: because smoking tobacco is now banned throughout PA everywhere except single-family homes. Because vapes give off minimal smoke and odor, people living in apartments and condos have turned to vaping.


thankgoodness
Fairmeadow
on May 20, 2020 at 1:47 pm
thankgoodness, Fairmeadow
on May 20, 2020 at 1:47 pm
3 people like this

Thank goodness we don't have to worry about e-cigs or vaping in Palo Alto anymore. The next question is when will we ban recreational weed and then alcohol?


Rick
Adobe-Meadow
on May 20, 2020 at 3:41 pm
Rick, Adobe-Meadow
on May 20, 2020 at 3:41 pm
16 people like this

Stupid. I'll just drive to Mountain View. Never make a law that is unenforceable or pointless (like the idling ban). It makes you look foolish and encourages disrespect for the law.


PA City Nanny Council
Midtown
on May 20, 2020 at 4:52 pm
PA City Nanny Council, Midtown
on May 20, 2020 at 4:52 pm
14 people like this

The City Council should've consulted some public health experts before they (a group with zero medical or public health policy expertise) banned the sale in Palo Alto.

A study published in Science Magazine: "the prohibitionist” policies that ban e-cigarettes just might be doing more harm than good, argue a group of public health experts in an opinion piece published today in Science. Author Amy Fairchild, dean of Ohio State University’s College of Public Health . . . We suggest that the evidence warns against prohibitionist measures. Restricting access and appeal among less harmful vaping products out of an abundance of caution while leaving deadly combustible products on the market does not protect public health."

Web Link

Wired Magazine 12/12/2019 has a great article that references this study published in Science Magazine titled: "Anti-Vape Laws Could Do More Harm Than Good. Banning vaping just might drive teens to the black market—and send adult smokers back to their cancer sticks."

Web Link

Apparently, the PA City Council thinks they know better than the Public Health Experts.


PaloAltan
Triple El
on May 20, 2020 at 5:30 pm
PaloAltan, Triple El
on May 20, 2020 at 5:30 pm
12 people like this

Why are we piling more regulations on when we just need to enforce the laws we have. Why can't we arrest kids under 18 who are caught vaping and send them to Juvenile Hall? I seem to recall that being a pretty good deterrent for bad behavior way back when I was youth growing up in Palo Alto. Why are we so easy on our kids now a'days? We are not helping them out. They will leave Palo Alto at 18 and run amok in the wider world w/o the shelter of the Palo Alto nanny state. Let's ensure our kids grow up to learn how important it is to make the right choices and the consequences when they don't!


ALB
College Terrace
on May 20, 2020 at 8:24 pm
ALB, College Terrace
on May 20, 2020 at 8:24 pm
7 people like this

Mac's Smoke Shop will survive as it has for over eighty five years. Vaping has not been around that long to be the main source of income for this historical business. Vaping destroys lungs. So we will all need to run into Mac's and buy other items to support this great shop. The council did the right thing. My dad bought his cigars there. A dear friend always buys his pipe tobacco there. The Khoury's business will adapt.


Anon
Adobe-Meadow
on May 20, 2020 at 8:48 pm
Anon, Adobe-Meadow
on May 20, 2020 at 8:48 pm
5 people like this

Alb

Yes let’s all support poisons if all kinds and cancer for the historic mac shop

Swing family that smoke die of lung and throat cancer not worth it .


Online Name
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 20, 2020 at 9:21 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 20, 2020 at 9:21 pm
9 people like this

Yes, let's also shut down all the bars and stop restaurants from serving booze, too.

Lots of people die of liver and kidney disease and it's just not worth it.


Sellers
Downtown North
on May 21, 2020 at 12:19 am
Sellers, Downtown North
on May 21, 2020 at 12:19 am
6 people like this

They will not need to sell vaping products if they sell toilet paper, paper towels, and hand sanitizer (and meat)!


BryceMmm
Midtown
on May 21, 2020 at 8:52 am
BryceMmm, Midtown
on May 21, 2020 at 8:52 am
6 people like this

It’s sad watching the public turn against vaping. The vape tax next year is going to be way more money than the cigarette tax. There are now two on vape products. A “tobacco tax“ and a “vape tax” while cigarettes only have the tobacco tax. I can’t afford that so it’s back to cigarettes or buying black market vape products but those have already claimed dozens of people. I’d rather be broke than dead though.

I’m sorry if this is a duplicate. I’m not sure if my comment is going through.


ALB
College Terrace
on May 21, 2020 at 5:46 pm
ALB, College Terrace
on May 21, 2020 at 5:46 pm
4 people like this

So MEA CULPA on me because I assumed that banning vaping products was the sole concern here and did not take into consideration that some flavored tabacco including pipe cherry tobacco would be included. One of our old friends has been buying his cherry tobacco at Mac's for DECADES. In college we smoked clove cigarettes. I promptly quit smoking at age twenty three for fear of getting addicted and ultimately the big C. I smoked Shermans and Gauloises. Mac's has always sold cherry tobacco for pipe smokers etc. Therefore I do think that the council has overreached. BAN the vaping technology. Period. Let Mac's sell pipe tobacco. I apologize for early post because I thought the council was only going to take up vaping products only. It is true that JUUL targeted youth with their cute flavors. And it is also true that many people have permanently scarred lungs because of this faux promise of helping people quit smoking. No, young people think it is cool to vape because they think they are immortal. So the city council needs to ban this hyped product: vaping technology and redo the vote. My old man bought cigars there. I buy magazines and candy from time to time. Mac's is an institution.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on May 23, 2020 at 11:09 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on May 23, 2020 at 11:09 pm
2 people like this

This is a mistake. But to remedy maybe city Council can pass a resolution requiring residents to do like I do and read 20 newspapers a week.


Oldster
Old Palo Alto
on May 24, 2020 at 12:57 am
Oldster, Old Palo Alto
on May 24, 2020 at 12:57 am
8 people like this

My hometown closing a heritage mom & pop shop, the only place downtown with a decent selection of newsapers and magazines plus snacks open after normal business hours, makes no sense - especailly when there is no date our public libraries will reopen!. All closing Mac's will do is devastate a mom & pop business while sending more business to 7/11... and put yet another downtown property under max density redevelopment pressure.

If I were a conspiracy theorist, I'd be watching for someone to submit a redevelopement plan for Mac's land. Nice views for a penthouse thanks to historic buildings on either side.

Prohibition of alcohol by the US Constitution only created a bigger market for liquor by titilating twits with the "taboo" fun of it.
Closing Mac's under presuure from parents acting like Carrie Nation is not sound government policy nor will any attempted social engineering land use Prohibition reduce the number teens from sneaking tobacco products.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on May 24, 2020 at 7:46 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on May 24, 2020 at 7:46 pm
2 people like this

The Khoury's published an 80-word broadside with their view on this story and a call to action. They are partly right in that unlike the other businesses impacted, they are a marketplace of ideas. I buy roughly 10 newspapers there per week, easily $1,000 per year on that, magazines, plus pork rinds, and juice, the rare Nabisco product. I bought Take Five bars with two different packagings, intending to write about appropriation.

The location is great, they can survive the blow. They could do more with their logo -- they sell t-shirts but of a weak design.
I've opined here hundreds of times plus posted 2,600 articles to my own blog, (which itself and in its name protested installing fake grass at the Page Mill soccer fields, but also covers local news and jazz music, for ten years).
Maybe Mac's Smoke Shop could publish "Smoke Signals" that covers this dispute and other pro-retail, unique to Palo Alto issues.
Maybe I'd pay them to handle an exclusive weekly broadside based on "Plastic Alto".
I'd ditch a lot of the bongs and pipes, piled embarrasingly high. Likewise "Black Teen Virgins Who Like to Get Fucked" -- this paper won't even print the title.
Maybe the successor beneficiary landlords would give them a break.
But if Neil and Lori Khoury can step to the step of the true spirit of Palo Alto, they can not only persevere but prevail.


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Adobe-Meadow
on May 24, 2020 at 10:47 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
on May 24, 2020 at 10:47 pm
2 people like this

YEAH - the flu is a respiratory disease. And smoke shops just add to the over all problem. Compromising your internal organs.

I grew up in LA when it was so smoggy that we could not go out and play at recess. Sometimes we had to just put our heads on the desks at recess. Eventually it started to clear up.

And growing up - my parents smoked. I keep worrying that I will still end up with lung cancer at this late date. That generation grew up that way.

And as a young adult I was around people that smoked pot in college - SO COOL. NO - hated it. I get shots for pneumonia to try and protect my lungs. Make anything that goes into the lungs or air around your head go away.


anonymous
Charleston Gardens
on May 25, 2020 at 6:43 am
anonymous, Charleston Gardens
on May 25, 2020 at 6:43 am
2 people like this

probably business is slow with school out and parents watching kids closer

Good to see stores selling to minors closing for any reason. They should be ashamed of the damage they caused.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 25, 2020 at 2:38 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 25, 2020 at 2:38 pm
Like this comment

I'm going to have to go contrarian *again* on this one. Just because something is a small business doesn't make it worth saving. There used to be an "adult" "book" store along ECR near the end of town - I can't remember exactly where it was - maybe where the new Homewood Suites is? -- doesn't matter. But, it was a small business, presumably located far from schools, like smoke shops and pot shops should be now. Now, a smoke shop which sells a product that reduces your life expectancy by 8-10 years is suddenly sacred because it is a small business? It would have been amusing if the adult bookstore was still there and got the same kind of adulation. Come on, get real.

Here is my contrarian view: how about we create a safety net for all employees of all businesses big and small? Speaking for myself, I would rather pay someone to work out all day than pay them to sell CCC's (cancer-causing-chemicals) to people at a smoke shop. Next, we can find something more constructive for them to do for a living. Nanny State? Sure, if you are blowing smoke, or vape, in my face.


Online Name
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 25, 2020 at 3:01 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 25, 2020 at 3:01 pm
6 people like this

"Good to see stores selling to minors closing for any reason. They should be ashamed of the damage they caused."

1) Rarely do we see a police blotter report without at least arrest for an adult possessing a false id. There's one such arrest in the latest edition which reminds me how common a crime it is.

How many MINORS are ever caught, arrested or fined since they're the ones perpetrating the crime?? Where's the parental responsibility? And as kids, did you never illegally consume beer, wine, whatever as a youthful indiscretion and still grow up fine?? Since when did we become such a nanny state?

2) Los Alto also passed an anti-vape law but was smart and nuanced enough to leave flavored tobacco alone since it's sold primarily to ADULT PIPE SMOKERS and has been for DECADES. Think of your grandfather and/or favorite professor smoking his SWEET-smelling cherry or chocolate pipe tobacco.

Also, this weekend's edition of the other paper has a front-page story about Mac's, its history and its trusted place in this community.

@Anon, re adult stores, there is / was a branch of the famous Good Vibrations sex toy emporium right downtown with tastefully masked windows.
Re shortened life expectancy, that's an adult decision and whether one decides to shorten one's life by smoking, eating red meat and sugar or drinking booze or Chlorox, it's the decision of that adult.

Should we ban Chlorox sales??


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 25, 2020 at 3:16 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 25, 2020 at 3:16 pm
Like this comment

@Online_Name

>> Re shortened life expectancy, that's an adult decision and whether one decides to shorten one's life by smoking, eating red meat and sugar or drinking booze or Chlorox, it's the decision of that adult. Should we ban Chlorox sales??

But, that wasn't my point. My point was that I'm tired of tip-toeing around everything because "it is a small business". A *small business* that is in business to sell people Clorox *to drink* doesn't deserve kid-glove treatment either.

To answer your question about banning things: I'm generally not in favor of banning. I think a reasonable compromise is to restrict stores that sell Clorox to drink to the same low-rent "fun" neighborhood with the adult bookstores and smoke shops. Too bad hyper-gentrification has cleared out the low-rent district.


Online Name
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 25, 2020 at 3:42 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 25, 2020 at 3:42 pm
4 people like this

@Anon, you brought up life expectancy originally and now you're calling downtown PA a "low-rent "fun" neighborhood" since that's where Mac's and Good Vibrations are/were? Alert the Chamber of Commerce!

It'a obviously impossible for businesses -- small or otherwise -- to determine the intent of each Chlorox buyer.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on May 25, 2020 at 4:15 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on May 25, 2020 at 4:15 pm
1 person likes this

I think flavored tobacco at Mac's to adults should be grandfathered in.
Leadership should work with the landlord to give Mac's a break while they figure out what to shelve to displace the offensive-by-decree items.
Further research indicates they also sell a pretty good $2 cup of Joe that is a bargain compared to the places usually buy from.
The title I found objectionable -- see above --is Cherry Boxxx Pictures "Black Virgin Teens" and it says they are over 18 years of age and has contact info for the publisher, although the title is from 2005. Seven-ninety-nine reduced from $13.99 originally. I opted instead for Living Blues Magazine with a plain black cover "50th" anniversary issue, mainly for the ad for Ruthie Foster Big Band live album ("evokes Ellington, Sinatra") on Blue Corn Records. (There were also magazines such as Marie Claire, Sports Illustrated and National Geographic with more wholesome and respectable images of black people, if you excuse the digression into race).
I spoke to the owner Neil Khoury about the possibility of eliminating the porn section of his store, which is behind a beaded curtain. But there is a difference between stores deliberately changing their wares for their own reasons and their hand being forced by government over-reach, which is how Dubois rightly describes his board's unfortunate result.
I also bought a Gatorade, due to the heat. Earlier today, I had bought The Times, The Chron and the Merc.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on May 26, 2020 at 5:18 am
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on May 26, 2020 at 5:18 am
Like this comment

When I cut and pasted the headline to my blog it became “Palo Alto Smoke Shops to shutter City Council” talk about civic engagement


Marco
Stanford
on May 26, 2020 at 7:30 am
Marco, Stanford
on May 26, 2020 at 7:30 am
Like this comment

To get nicotine into your bloodstream, you smoke or you vape. City Council does not ban smoking but it bans vaping. How does that make any sense?


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Adobe-Meadow
on May 26, 2020 at 9:22 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
on May 26, 2020 at 9:22 am
Like this comment

ANON - your comments concerning the personnel at smoke shops - if you look at the pot shops in Oakland it is culture thing for them. They dress the part, act the part, and live the part. Some guy in a van makes deliveries to some residents on my block - and he looks the part and acts the part. That young man thinks he is VERY COOL.
And the older people who go into those shops think they are reliving their UC Berkley days of being a radical. And if you go to the pet shop they now have a dog treat that has CBD in it. It is a cultural activity that goes beyond the individuals health.


Resident
Meadow Park
on May 26, 2020 at 10:19 pm
Resident, Meadow Park
on May 26, 2020 at 10:19 pm
Like this comment

How many of these store owners - specifically, of Mac's Smoke Shop, Raw Smoke Shop, Red Brick Café & Hookah Nites Lounge, Smoke and More, and Smokes and Vapes - are residents of Palo Alto? I doubt many are. If these stores close, there will be very little negative effect on Palo Alto residents, which should be our main concern. These owners can open shops somewhere else and sell their unhealthy garbage to people other than Palo Altans.


Resident
Meadow Park
on May 26, 2020 at 10:33 pm
Resident, Meadow Park
on May 26, 2020 at 10:33 pm
Like this comment

1. "The council's decision to institute a ban on vaping mirrors a similar action taken by Santa Clara County last November." So people want Palo Alto to be the only city in the county to sell this stuff? Do you realize every vaper in the county would then be coming into Palo Alto to buy and use vaping products?

2. These shops survived before vaping became popular. They'll be okay if they decide to adapt. In fact, with all of us sheltering-at-home, I bet their business has been booming for the last 2 months so they're probably not hurting.


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