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City ban on selling electronic cigarettes, flavored tobacco is a blow to Mac's

Original post made on Jun 19, 2020

Mac's Smoke Shop has lived through almost every imaginable crisis over the past 86 years. Now, it's facing another that could ultimately bring its demise: a city ban on flavored tobacco products.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, June 19, 2020, 6:50 AM

Comments (33)

28 people like this
Posted by CLS
a resident of University South
on Jun 19, 2020 at 11:33 am

I don't usually comment on this forum - and I am not a smoker - but I find it abhorrent that our City Council is now dictating what adults can and can't do with their lives. Do they think people won't go elsewhere to buy flavored tobacco? And - certainly, if they think they are protecting children and teens, they are sadly mistaken. Los Altos isn't that far away. What's next? Mac's is one of the old time places that make it bearable to continue to live in Palo Alto - and keeping it from becoming just another blah city. I'm sorry Council members Alison Cormack, Eric Filseth, Lydia Kou and Greg Tanaka have taken this step.


6 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2020 at 11:46 am

Posted by CLS, a resident of University South

>> I don't usually comment on this forum - and I am not a smoker - but I find it abhorrent that our City Council is now dictating what adults can and can't do with their lives.

Well, actually, we all navigate a world with tomes of laws that dictate lots of things we can and can't do with our lives. I fail to see why "the state" (in this case city government) shouldn't try to discourage teens from becoming addicted to tobacco products. It is a normal function of government to try to get teens on a healthy track instead of an unhealthy one. Why should "Mac's" get special protection? Use of tobacco products significantly, measurably damages people's health and longevity. Unlike, say alcohol consumption, which may have some benefits even as it has other drawbacks, there is no upside for tobacco use. So why should we bend over backwards for a tobacco shop? Because it is 86 years old or whatever? OK, let's turn it into an anti-tobacco museum.

>> Do they think people won't go elsewhere to buy flavored tobacco?

Of course they will. So what?


15 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 19, 2020 at 12:13 pm

"I fail to see why "the state" (in this case city government) shouldn't try to discourage teens from becoming addicted to tobacco products"

It's already illegal for teens but you're depriving ADULTS of their rights. How about prosecuting the teens who steal mommy's credit cards and use false id's?


Like this comment
Posted by Gulay Gur
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 19, 2020 at 12:14 pm

"cannabidiol (or CBD) products — the active ingredient in cannabis "

Left for sale ⁉️‼️⁉️


15 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 19, 2020 at 12:15 pm

> Well, actually, we all navigate a world with tomes of laws that dictate lots of things we can and can't do with our lives.

Those tomes of laws are not really there to dictate what we can and can't do with our lives, but rather how we interact and balance each others rights and responsibilities. I see what you did there trying to reframe the comment to something irrelevant to Mac's Smoke Shop. Kind of dishonest.


> I fail to see why "the state" (in this case city government) shouldn't try to discourage teens from becoming addicted to tobacco products.

Again, you shift from threatening the Mac's Smoke Shop business to something that you admitted yourself is not going to keep people from buying these products. Not good reasoning.

Want to keep teens from buying these products, then disallow teens from buying them. No need to destroy a thriving and long-term business in Palo Alto. It is legislative, political and economic overreach.


> Why should "Mac's" get special protection?

The question is more why should Macs get special oppression? Can you prove they were breaking the law or selling these products to teens? Want to shut down all liquor stores as well?


> Use of tobacco products significantly, measurably damages people's health and longevity.

That is trick to prove, and also tricky to put up alongside other threats, such as air-pollution, or junk food, or global warming.

It is also generally accepted but smoking or chewing tobacco is dangerous and we've seen most Americans move away from using it on their own. What other measures would you use, how far would you go? Your same arguments would support putting surveillance cameras everywhere with facial recognition to make sure no one ever smoked again.

There has to be some qualification and proportionality in our laws.

Then, you cannot really measure the damage to people. Al kinds of things are damaging but the "measurable" part of that and the evaluation of what you measure is a subjective process.


> So why should we bend over backwards for a tobacco shop?

Mac's is not just a tobacco shop, it is someone's business and some jobs.

You have not made any kind of valid or persuasive case to bend over backwards against Macs.


>> Do they think people won't go elsewhere to buy flavored tobacco?
> Of course they will. So what?

So he commented rationally and logically on it. Apparently you read his comment.


8 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 19, 2020 at 12:34 pm

@Gulay Gur, you can get CBD products as pain relievers at most pet stores, health food stores, drug stores and many grocery stores. CBD doesn't get you high if that's your concern.

Stop singling out Mac's.


8 people like this
Posted by Gulay Gur
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 19, 2020 at 12:57 pm

I think I was misunderstood. I did not single out Mac's, on the contrary i am objecting, always have, to the city's arrogance and presumption in trying to control what is right for adults or not. Adults are responsible for their own buying and lifestyle choices, as long as we all respect others and THEIR choices. Mac's is being oppressed, and pushed out. For shame.


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2020 at 1:16 pm

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park

>> Those tomes of laws are not really there to dictate what we can and can't do with our lives, but rather how we interact and balance each others rights and responsibilities.

All laws (should) exist to balance our rights with the rights of others. Laws involving flavored tobacco and vapes-- same thing. And, ...?

>> I see what you did there trying to reframe the comment to something irrelevant to Mac's Smoke Shop. Kind of dishonest.

Ouch. Unfortunately, you are so caught up with the "myth of the small business" that the impact that a particular type of small business has on the rights of others isn't visible to you. Not all small businesses are alike. Some harm the public.

>> Again, you shift from threatening the Mac's Smoke Shop business to something that you admitted yourself is not going to keep people from buying these products. Not good reasoning.

The state may make acquisition and consumption of something more difficult without -banning- it. I have no problem with the state making consumption of tobacco/nicotine products less convenient, without outright banning them. In fact, I think the state should do a lot more of it.

>> Want to keep teens from buying these products, then disallow teens from buying them.

Or, make it less convenient, but, not too inconvenient. We don't want them to avail themselves of organized crime channels, which also has a huge impact.

>> No need to destroy a thriving and long-term business in Palo Alto. It is legislative, political and economic overreach.

I don't care if a small business has existed for a year or a century if what it is selling is deleterious to the public. There are small businesses I hope will succeed, and others that I hope will fail. Just because it is a small business doesn't mean it is sacred.

>> Want to shut down all liquor stores as well?

A throwaway straw man, but, since you brought it up, alcoholic beverages are much trickier than tobacco. A low level of alcohol consumption is a wash, with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and increased risk of cancer. "Alcohol Use Disorder", on the other hand, reduces life expectancy by even more years than smoking, in many ways, not to mention the risk to others (MADD etc.).

In contrast, smoking (and vaping) have -zero- upside (statistically). Not tricky at all.


6 people like this
Posted by cmarg
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 19, 2020 at 1:17 pm

I feel you have to realize that teens are able to buy these products even though it is illegal. There have been quite a number of instances where teens were able to buy the e-cigarettes. The challenge is, and always seems to be, the adults who buy illegal products for teens and kids. It also is a lack of checking ids from teens when they go to any smoke shop.


12 people like this
Posted by Confused
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 19, 2020 at 2:04 pm

This is absurd. The hysteria around legal forms of smoking tasting like something or being delivered electronically is just that, hysteria. As a comparison, do we make the demands of other unhealthy activities involving our bodies?

To a large extent, no.

We allow foods and drinks (including alcohols) to be flavored and sweetened and jam-pack them with unhealthy ingredients, but supermarkets and liquor stores get free rein to sell these items. But specific to vape devices, what is the true danger? Is it addiction, long-term health compromises, second-hand damages? How about the immediate danger: unregulated, black-market vapes that we know do short-term harm to people?

The local government fails here on both sides. Not only do they decrease individual freedoms in terms of the products we can purchase close to our homes, but they increase the risks and danger to our communities, by forcing customers into less-regulated markets with higher amounts of dangerous products.

This is not to say that we should be looking the other way while our kids get Puff Bars from Mac's, but it is to say that maybe the right step forward is to take responsibility for the actions and choices of our kids on a family and community level, not a governmental one. We need to be comfortable looking our kids in the eyes and teaching them about healthy choices and friend groups, not banning products from our town because we're scared of what our kids might do.


20 people like this
Posted by "adults"
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 19, 2020 at 2:11 pm

If Mac's and Raw Smoke Shop had been more conscientious about refusing to sell vapes and flavored nicotine cartridges to teens with obviously fake IDs, I would agree that the ban was unjustified. However, IMO they prioritized sales over youth health, and that needed to stop.


7 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 19, 2020 at 2:49 pm

"Or, make it less convenient, but, not too inconvenient. We don't want them to avail themselves of organized crime channels, which also has a huge impact."

Driving to Los Altos or any other nearby town equates to "organized crime channels" ???!!! Really? Alert the media. Call the FBI. Set up roadblocks at the PA borders.

What does any of this nanny-gate hysteria have to do with selling flavored pipe tobacco to grandpa?? Educate YOUR kids.


1 person likes this
Posted by A nice guy
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 19, 2020 at 2:57 pm

Paternalism over parenting. Great job guys!


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2020 at 2:58 pm

Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland

>> Driving to Los Altos or any other nearby town equates to "organized crime channels" ???!!! Really? Alert the media. Call the FBI. Set up roadblocks at the PA borders.

I have no idea what you are trying to say. What I was trying to say is that -banning- the sale of something, or, making it ridiculously inconvenient (drive to another state, say), drives some people to utilize organized crime channels to acquire something. I'm not in favor of -banning- things for that reason. Organized crime is really, really bad. But, driving to Los Altos, OTOH, is not -that- inconvenient.

>> What does any of this nanny-gate hysteria have to do with selling flavored pipe tobacco to grandpa?? Educate YOUR kids.

Honestly, I really don't care that much either way. But, I do care that people will rationalize anything on the basis of, "It is a small business!" So what!? It is likely that your grandpa's tobacco use took a decade off his life. The small business should be selling printer paper and toner cartridges instead. Just because it is a small business doesn't make the tobacco shop sacred.


3 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 19, 2020 at 3:19 pm

@Anon, you said, "Or, make it less convenient, but, not too inconvenient. We don't want them to avail themselves of organized crime channels, which also has a huge impact."

By making it less convenient to get something in PA that can be easily obtained in nearby communities, you seem to be jumping the gun to "organized crime channels" so I was just pushing your statement to its logical conclusion.

Apologies if I misinterpreted but in this climate of hysteria over pipe tobacco, one never knows.


14 people like this
Posted by Sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 19, 2020 at 3:20 pm

I have liver in Palo Alto since 1965. When I was first here Macs was the only place in PA that had the New York Times on Sunday. That is a legacy that should be honored. Selling tobacco products is not necessarily a problem; it is shops that sell to minors. I have not noticed a problem with this at Macs.
Macs is also one of the few places even now where you can find a good selection of magazines. For example, today I was able to buy Scientific American there.
Macs should stay. Young people who want to smoke will find a way whether you close all the good places in PA or not. I fail to see how selling cannacis products is better than selling tobacco. Believe me, young people who want to smoke tobacco will find a way whether or not you close places like Macs. I've been there.
Please find a way to keep Macs open. We need independent stores. PA should not be allowed to go the way of only chain stores.


17 people like this
Posted by Seriously?
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 19, 2020 at 4:33 pm

In the middle of a pandemic, City Council puts another long time historically significant store out of business. Seriously? This Nanny Council has nothing better to do?

Don't get me wrong. I abhor vaping and what it's doing to our kids. It's Big Tobacco 2.0 and EVIL. But anyone who lobbied for or voted for this ban that affects Mac's is either ignorant or lacks intelligence or both. Anyone who knows anything about vaping, and truly knows what teens do (I have teens), knows that teens buy their vaping supplies online! Clearly the City Council does not know anything about teens and vaping. Because this ban will do NOTHING to stop teen vaping. And adults who shop at Mac's are just that -- adults who have a legal right to make their own decisions.

I think we should flip things and survey the personal behaviors of our City Council to see what they are doing that might be deemed unhealthy that needs to be banned (Too many coffees? Carbs? Sugar? High cholesterol diet? Too much red meat? Are they exercising? Low or high carbon footprint? Are they following strict Shelter-in-Place rules? Masks at all times out of their homes? Not seeing anyone outside their households? etc). I would really love to know. I think I'll pop in Mac's and start buying something there, even if it's unhealthy, until the Nanny Council bans whatever that is next.


18 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 19, 2020 at 5:17 pm

The store needs to start selling product which doesn't kill people.


5 people like this
Posted by Flamingo Mary
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 19, 2020 at 10:56 pm

This generation of young people are MUCH smarter for choosing to vape flavored liquids with nicotine in it than any of the previous generations that smoked cigarettes. They are LUCKY that vape juice exists....or else they would be smoking cigarettes just like past generations have.

When I was a teen, over 40 years ago, almost everyone smoked cigarettes. It was cool. Over the past decade, a large number of my friends have died of cancer, heart disease, and other conditions directly related to their smoking.

Today's young people will NOT die from these ilnesses as a result of vaping because neither nicotine nor vape juice contain any known carcinogens. Per the American Cancer Society, every cigarette contains 40 to 60 known cancer causing ingredients. US manufactured vape juice contains NONE.

So why is the media, politicians, City Council, state and federal legislators, and so many others determined to ban vaping eliquid? It is ALL about MONEY!

Do the research. READ! The true facts are there if you take the time to find the truth.


14 people like this
Posted by NeilsonBuchanan
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 20, 2020 at 9:11 am

I think this a good public health policy.

I wonder what my long deceased parents would say about this world of their three teenage age grandsons. My parents' formative years were the roaring 1920's with great emphasis on social mores to encourage young women and men to smoke. Advertising was downright deceptive.
Then came WWII, more ads, cool movies and free tobacco for soldiers. As a young adult I remember all the debate to merely put warning labels on tobacco packaging.

We citizens elect leaders to make difficult decisions and this was a good decision in the continuum of good public health.


19 people like this
Posted by Much Ado about Nothing
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 20, 2020 at 9:32 am

I'm a native Palo Altan from the olden days and can attest there's nothing sacred about Mac's. The fact that their business model involves selling smoking/vaping products shows the problem. Change the business model to something viable and unharmful or move on. I can make a long list of "sentimental/sacred" businesses that are gone. Leave the signage if you want but sell something else. Next!


Like this comment
Posted by ALB
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 20, 2020 at 4:01 pm

Agreed no vaping products. What I do not understand is why MACs is not permitted to sell traditional pipe tobacco and cigars to ADULTS. The stats prove that an occasional cigar or pipe does not harm the user and is nonaddicting. Cigarettes are another matter entirely. Yes flavored tobacco products that are geared toward youth should be BANNED. So think of Maigret and Sherlock Holmes and let people buy their traditional pipe tobacco and cigars. The council was correct in banning the fruity-flavored tobacco and vaping products but FLAT WRONG and misguided in voting to prohibit the sale of cigars and traditional pipe tobacco for ADULTS.


20 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 20, 2020 at 10:33 pm

First off, I hate cigarette smoke. I probably hate marijuana smoke even more. Secondhand smoke from both trigger headaches for me.

That said: I think that the City is treading on some thin ice with this measure. In fact, they are effectively punishing an existing business based upon their latest legislative whims.

There is a potential legal precedent for Mac's Smoke Shop to sue in order to stop this ruling. In Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah (1992), a "Santeria" church sued to stop the City of Hialeah, Florida from enacting broad ordinances that effectively targeted their church and its practices (such as ritualistic animal sacrifices).

The case eventually made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court reached a unanimous 9-0 decision against the city of Hialeah. While this case dealt with the First Amendment's "free exercise" clause, the justices arrived to their decision on the basis that the city had passed a general ordinances that retroactively restricted a religious organization that had already existed in the city.

In other words, the Court ruled that the ordinances were broad yet specifically punished the Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye. This was a big deal when it came to the rules of general applicability. However, the justices recognized that the law was overbroad and specifically targeted a single organization.

Web Link

While I hate cigarettes and secondhand smoke, I think that the City of Palo Alto is exceeding its authority through this. Where would it end? Can the city decide to effectively ban the sale of ice cream because of childhood obesity? Can it ban the sale of automobiles because of climate change? Can it pass an ordinance that retroactively bans food delivery for pizzas that are larger than eight inches in diameter?

At what point do local elected officials turn into our duly elected nannies?


10 people like this
Posted by Sajid
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 21, 2020 at 9:04 am

We need to do everything to support business not shut them down at times like this. Shame on city council. They don't like brown owned business.


14 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Jun 21, 2020 at 11:32 am

Sajid -

Color has nothing to do with it!

pearl


3 people like this
Posted by adam smith
a resident of another community
on Jun 21, 2020 at 1:42 pm

I think if states and the government are going to make these rules they need to not be hypocrites and ban 100% of everything you can inhale. If it's about health they need to make tobacco illegal and make it as controlled as Cocaine. Same with vaping stuff. I think it's foolish and there shouldn't be any bans and it's government overreach, but to say you can have this and not that defeats their whole argument. Kids are not buying vanilla flavored loose tobacco for pipes. Sorry, but that's b.s. That's not happening. I'm 47 and have never seen a kid anywhere smoking a pipe. Ever. The only time they buy cigars is for weed. They usually buy things like White Owls. So if you're selling higher-end cigars, the kids aren't buying those, either.

But here's an idea: maybe this shop can add coffee, and become a coffee shop that sells some tobacco products. I live in CT, but if I lived out there I'd go get my coffee from them every day just to support them.


6 people like this
Posted by Shelly
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 22, 2020 at 8:23 am

Hello,

Regus has had tenants using the office space at 228 Hamilton Ave, 3rd Fl, Palo Alto, CA throughout the shelter-in-place, when other businesses can't open. Why?


2 people like this
Posted by Patrick
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 22, 2020 at 7:38 pm

Ban all flavored alcohol then too. Oh wait, the council members all use the drug of alcohol so I guess it gets a pass.


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 23, 2020 at 1:53 pm

Posted by Patrick, a resident of Downtown North

>> Ban all flavored alcohol then too. Oh wait, the council members all use the drug of alcohol so I guess it gets a pass.

A variation of the "Tu Quoque Defence" Web Link

The answer is that this isn't about alcoholic beverages.

But, I will add that, statistically, light drinking has no significant effect on overall health/longevity. The increase in cancer risk and the decrease in cardiovascular risk cancel out statistically. In contrast, there is zero upside to smoking, and, statistically, it reduces the expected life expectancy of a lifetime smoker by something "on the order of" a decade (!) Depending on the details, you are looking at:

"Life expectancy for smokers is at least 10 years shorter than for nonsmokers." Web Link

It is a large number. Maybe not as large as being a Heroin addict:
"On average, addicts in this cohort lost 18.3 years (SD = 10.7) of potential life before age 65" Web Link but still, a large number.

Looking at population impact, in a 2012 detailed study, tobacco use was the #1 cause of preventable deaths, with overweight+diet+inactivity #2, and alcohol abuse was a distant third. Web Link I am NOT saying that alcohol abuse is not significant, just that tobacco and overweight+diet+inactivity were both far larger.


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 24, 2020 at 4:46 am

^ I agree, next new Palo Alto ordinance should target "overweight+diet+inactivity".


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2020 at 7:02 am

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde

>> I agree, next new Palo Alto ordinance should target "overweight+diet+inactivity".

Close Mac's and encourage smokers to walk to Menlo Park.


Like this comment
Posted by Bee
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 28, 2020 at 4:30 pm

Isn’t there already an age limit? This is another sad example of the government dictating what adults can and can’t put in their bodies then.


2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2020 at 7:26 pm

Posted by Bee, a resident of College Terrace

>> Isn’t there already an age limit? This is another sad example of the government dictating what adults can and can’t put in their bodies then.

The government isn't trying to stop you from eating flavored tobacco if that is what you want to do. Just make you ride your bike a little further to get it.

But, the real point, which I'm sure you know as well as I do, is that not all "small businesses" are alike, and, small businesses that are selling products which do more to damage the health of more people (measured in years of life lost) than any other product, just don't deserve the same level of support or consideration than the average small business.


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