Chautauqua County can set up a licensing system to better regulate companies that sell tobacco and steam products.

During a recent Human Services Committee meeting, county lawmakers discussed ways to fight smoking, particularly among young people.

According to Lynn Schaffer of the county legal department, the county governments cannot levy taxes on cigarettes, but a licensing system can be put in place as long as the licensing revenue comes from smoking enforcement.

“The licensing scheme would basically be local law, essentially setting up an approval program for sellers and retailers to apply for approval from the county and then, depending on how you’d like to set this up, that entity would set up an approval program that would would be associated with a fee ”. She said. “People would apply for a permit or a fee the same way our campsites apply for a permit or a fee, or tattoo parlors apply for a permit or a fee based on the county government’s oversight.”

Schaffer added that with the fees charged, the county would “Be able to strengthen and strengthen enforcement of existing government regulations, and through these license fees, achieve maximum compliance with the information already in the books.”

Over time, the county can, if it so wishes, reduce the number of licenses or restrict sales in a certain area. One example is the ban on selling tobacco and vape products near schools.

County lawmaker Ken Lawton, R-Busti, wondered if they would receive objections from nearby companies that have been around for a while selling tobacco.

County lawmaker Elisabeth Rankin, R-Jamestown, said the county may consider an offer “Grandfather clauses” to existing companies so that they can continue but not issue new permits.

County lawmaker Paul Whitford, D-Jamestown, said they should expect a setback from businesses. But that doesn’t mean he’s against it. “I think the main problem is that the fight is worth a lifetime and the answer is always yes.” he said.

No formal proposals have been made at this time. Rankin, who is also a member of the County Board of Health, chaired the discussion and said they will continue to discuss this in the future.

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