One of State Senator Alex Padilla's bills would create 600-foot buffer zones around schools where stores could not be issued new tobacco retail licenses. And it would strengthen penalties for violators.
Padilla: "The shopping centers across the street from a school are exactly where kids are walking past to school each morning and home from school in the afternoon."
Similar buffer zones are already required for alcohol permits. Another bill would allow landlords to prohibit smoking in rental units. And the third would raise the cigarette tax $1.50 a pack. The revenue would go to the general fund and anti-tobacco programs. Padilla says this bill is a backup plan if a similar ballot measure fails to win voter approval.
The tobacco company Altria says it opposes the tax measure because it would place too heavy a burden on consumers. It also opposes buffer zones, saying they'd hurt retailers and cost the economy jobs.