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December 23, 2011 > Tobacco program implementation

Tobacco program implementation

Submitted By City of Union City

In November 2010, Union City City Council adopted an Ordinance to strengthen smoking and tobacco regulations city-wide. Passage of this Ordinance earned Union City an "A" grade from the American Lung Association for local tobacco control. The Ordinance strengthened non-smoking standards for outdoor areas and housing complexes and established a Tobacco Retailer's License Program that requires local sellers of tobacco products to obtain a license locally.

Rental Apartment Complexes
The Municipal Code (Chapter 7.13) was updated to prohibit smoking in various common areas and in individual rental units. A 14-month grace period was intended to provide landlords with a minimum amount of time to modify leases and notify tenants of the new regulations. Under the new Ordinance, landlords are required to update leases and install signage to restrict smoking in accordance with the Code. If these requirements are satisfied and tenants continue to smoke in violation of local laws and their lease agreements, landlords' liability will be limited and neighbors can pursue enforcement against the offender through the civil litigation.

In December 2010, Union City staff gave written notice of key dates and requirements of the new Ordinance along with a complete copy of Chapter 7.13 to more than 250 rental property owners and managers. Additional reminders were sent to approximately 30 property owners and managers responsible for more than 3,000 apartment units in April 2011 and again in December 2011.

On February 23, 2012 smoking in a rental complex unit will be prohibited.

Tobacco Retailer's License Program
Municipal Code (Chapter 5.42) was established to require a local Tobacco Retailer's License. The local license enables business owners to be penalized for selling tobacco products to minors in addition to the sales clerk. The Tobacco Retailer's License Program requires completion of an application and payment of $665 annually by any person / business that sells tobacco in Union City. This is in addition to any applicable Business License Taxes owed. Complete program information is at

There are currently 49 tobacco retailers in Union City; this number is not expected to increase substantially as new restrictions on location make it more difficult to open a business selling tobacco. New tobacco retailers are required to be located 1,000 feet from any "sensitive uses," which include parks, playgrounds, public libraries, recreation centers, religious institutions, schools or youth-oriented establishments. All current tobacco retailers are "grandfathered" with regard to location. On December 8, 2011, staff sent billing and program information to all 49 tobacco retailers informing them of the program requirements and asking for the return of a completed application and payment by January 13, 2012. Staff expects most to respond accordingly but those who do not, or fail to submit materials and payment in a timely manner, will lose their "grandfathered" status and may be required to cease tobacco retailing operations.

Some retailers have complied already. Tobacco Retail Licenses will be issued by staff after payment and internal review. The Police Department expects to begin full enforcement of this program in February / March 2012.

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