Sonoma Co. sets $7 a pack for cigarettes in unincorporated areas

FILE - In this Saturday, March 2, 2013, photo, a cigarette burns in an ashtray at a home in Hayneville, Ala. A government study released on Monday, Jan. 11, 2016, shows that even though fewer U.S. teens are smoking, exposure to secondhand smoke remains a big problem. Nearly half of nonsmoking kids in middle school and high school were exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke in 2013, and rates were even higher among smokers. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

SONOMA CO. (KRON/BCN) — Smokers will be paying at least $7 for a pack of cigarettes in unincorporated Sonoma County starting in 2018, according to officials Wednesday.

An ordinance was approved on first reading Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors.

It also requires tobacco retailers, including those who sell electronic cigarettes in the unincorporated areas of the county, to get an annual license by July 1, 2016.

A hearing on the price of the annual license will be held in April, but the county’s Department of Health Services has recommended $350, subsidized for two years with some funding, which is in line with the licensing fee in Sonoma and Healdsburg.

The minimum price of $7 a pack and the licensing requirement aim to reduce youth access to tobacco.

County officials said the average price of a pack of cigarettes in California is $5.76.

A 2015 survey by the Department of Health Services showed 18 percent of retailers in unincorporated Sonoma County sold tobacco to underage youth, compared to the statewide average of 7.6 percent.

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