Sonoma County supervisors still can step back from their overly punitive anti-tobacco ordinance as it comes before the board for a second reading today.

This ordinance is designed primarily to “reduce illegal sales of tobacco products to minors by enacting retailer conditions that reduce the appeal and access of products to underage youth,” according to the county.

Think of that logic. It obviously already is illegal to sell tobacco products to those who are under the legal age. Sonoma supervisors figure that, because already-tough rules aren’t working, they need even tougher rules.

Instead of cracking down on retailers or customers who break the law, they’ve decided to harass all retailers and buyers by artificially driving up the cost of the products for everyone (to $7 a pack), in hopes they become too expensive for kids to buy them illegally.

California already is facing tobacco black markets. Those who want to smoke can drive to another county. Many poor residents will have to pay more to sustain their bad habit. Instead of seeking productive ways to reduce smoking, the county has embraced a policy based on posturing.

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