Perry Says No to Planned Cigarette Bill as Opposition Grows at City Hall

Opposition is growing at City Hall to that proposal which will come up for a vote tomorrow, which would outlaw the sale of cigarettes to anybody under the age of 21, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Northeast side Councilman Clayton Perry says he will vote against the proposal, saying it is not right for the City to prevent a legal adult from buying a legal product.  

"I am not interested in setting an arbitrary standard for adults; a standard that does not apply outside of our city limits. I am not interested in removing the ability for current 18-20 year olds to purchase tobacco products inside city limits, forcing them to take their dollars outside the city," Perry said in a statement.

The City has already struggled to come up with enough votes to get the so called 'Tobacco 21' measure passed, and has already delayed one scheduled vote.

Perry says the job of making sure young people don't get involved in a dangerous practice like smoking is the responsibility of 'parents, guardians, and teachers,' not the city government

."As a parent, I had plenty of conversations with my then-teenage children about making the right call. I do not believe that this responsibility lies with a City Council," Perry said.

He pointed out that Tobacco 21 legislation has already failed at the state level, which is where the responsibility for measures like this should lie.  He says it will be too easy for 18 to 20 year olds simply to drive into a suburban city or into the county to buy smokes, leaving San Antonio retailers the big losers.

He says 3% of sales of San Antonio retailers come from selling tobacco products, and points out that when a person comes into a convenience store to buy smokes, they often buy gasoline and other products as well.

"This may seem like a small portion of a budget, but to a small business owner, this can make all the difference in determining next year's payroll, future expansions, or their general cost of doing business. City Council has not been willing to reduce our budget by any percent, but we are now being asked to reduce the budgets of our business community. I am not interested in passing an ordinance that will directly harm San Antonio businesses."

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