Hayward Tries to Kick the Habit with ‘Timeout’ on Tobacco, E-Cigs Business

A woman with a version of an e-cigarette.

HAYWARD CITY COUNCIL | HEALTH | It is too easy to buy a pack of smokes in Hayward, says city staff, and the number of e-cigarette retailers and hookah lounges in the city has risen starkly in recent months. Seven of Hayward’s eight e-cigarette establishments have opened its doors in just the last 11 months, said staff, which urged Tuesday night for a 45-day moratorium virtually every type of new business offering tobacco, e-cigarettes and hookah pipes. The urgency ordinance, called a “timeout” by some council members, was unanimously approved Tuesday night. The moratorium, the city says, will allow their planning department to more clearly define language in the current municipal code that is silent on establishments selling tobacco products in Hayward. It does not affect any current establishments.

Although there was relative uniformity of thought by the council, for instance, most agreed the effects of e-cigarettes is not known and while there is anecdotal evidence electronic nicotine-delivery device may help wean smokers off of cigarettes, some were skeptical about its overall health benefits. The discussion, however, became one of the first instances of a proxy mayoral debate when Councilmember Mark Salinas, one of three members running for mayor this year, including Councilmembers Barbara Halliday and Francisco Zermeno, framed the issue as a public health problem–one Hayward is losing.

Hayward has 146 retailers selling tobacco and other nicotine-delivery devices, which include grocery and liquor stores and shops dedicated solely to selling cigarettes in bulk, said a staff report. “I find it utterly unacceptable that we have 146 stores that sell cigarettes and all this stuff,” said Salinas, who added he received a large number of emails urging against the moratorium emanating from outside of Hayward. “Gaze across our city, every single strip mall and every single corner just about has a cigarette store. Even on the most minimum level, it’s like 146? Really? We can’t even get grocery store in our city, but if you sell tobacco–100 percent–come on down.” Salinas also noted the city’s ranking as one of the unhealthiest cities in Alameda County, according to a 2010 report, as related, in part, with the prevalence of cigarette retailers.

Zermeno shot back, “I do disagree that the 150,000 people that make up Hayward are the unhealthiest of Alameda County. I do believe we ought to fight these negative portrayals of our city. I don’ think they are right and we don’t need to accept them. We are proud city and should be working on the positiveness of Hayward and not negative things somebody may want to say about us.”

Nevertheless, the issue of cigarettes retailers and its related e-cigarettes and hookah establishments could return to the council next month. The 45-day moratorium is set to expire Feb. 28. If city staff indicates a need for additional time to study the issue, a 10-month, 15 day moratorium on new tobacco, e-cigarette and hookah lounges could be enacted with council approval. Similar moratoriums exist all over the state, including locally, in Richmond and Rohnert Park, said city staff. Last November, Union City passed a prohibition on hookah bars and businesses that sell and allow e-cigarettes to be consumed, also known as vaping.

The co-owners of the Hayward vaping store, It Is Vapor 5, said their business cleared $1.2 million in its first year and employs 14 workers earning an average of $12.50 per hour. Stephen Hernandez, co-owner of the shop, claimed his products have helped over 5,000 people quit smoking cigarettes and his establishment was even singled out last year by Rep. Eric Swalwell for being “the model business of the entire area.” Hernandez later asserted nicotine occurs naturally in other foods such as potatoes, various greens and strawberries, which led Mayor Michael Sweeney to later mock his comments. “Instead of putting strawberries on my corn flakes, I should sprinkle some nicotine? Is that really credible?” said Sweeney.

Councilmember Al Mendall said the moratorium would allow the city time to sort through the issue, but he was also skeptical about some studies on the effects of vaping and conceded, “To me they strike me as no worse than tobacco products.” Halliday added, the focus should be on preventing young people from ever getting into the smoking habit, but adults should also retain freedom to decide on their own. “Some though may be helped by e-cigarettes to greatly cut down their nicotine intake. I don’t want us to do anything that might prevent someone from being a little healthier,” she said. “In the end, people need to make their own choices.”

Categories: 2014 Election, Al Mendall, Barbara Halliday, Eric Swalwell, Francisco Zermeno, Hayward, Hayward City Council, hookah bars, Mark Salinas, Michael Sweeney, moratorium, nicotine, tobacco, vaping

3 replies

  1. Retarded answers… We need Business. We cant be picky… look at Hayward look at all the blite! look at all the empty buildings.. you wanna talk about a city with an identity crisis… Bring business back to hayward. Stop saying we are a liberal city and acknowledge its a conservative town pretending to be liberal. This city will continue to fail to attract business because of the lack of entrepreneurs running the show.. If I was in office i would cause major choas. it would be pandamonimum. lol.. We need business we need to open our doors to potential businesses. Stop with this moratorium. They say mentality! they say they shop in our town.. but in reality they dont even shop our town.. if you get my drift. We need to be more like SF , NYC, LA.. shit atleast oakland or fremont for god sakes! WE need to be competitive! simple as that.. and we are not!


  2. What is H.A.R.D doing about Hayward's unhealthy status? They are responsible for providing activities for our citizens so why such a dismal rating for Hayward?


  3. Oh Hayward. So worried about health of citizens, yet allows Russel City Power Plant to pollute your preserve and historic areas. And for those who don't know, this power plant is the sixth worse establishment in the entire bay area for hazardous and particulate-matter emissions. Quit worrying about businesses coming to Hayward and health of Haywardians when your willing to poison us and our land for profit.


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