Pulse of Concord

The great Concord smoke-out

Pulse of ConcordCONCORD, CA (June 13, 2023) — Tobacco was a native American product when colonist (invaders) learned of it.

According to Wikipedia, John Rolfe is credited as the first settler to successfully raise tobacco as a cash crop in 1612, six years after the settlement of Jamestown.

Since then, it has gone on to be responsible for the death of more people than all the wars in the world combined. After successes like potatoes and corn, we had to have this one slip in. Geez, what revenge has befallen all.

In Concord, we have had some struggles with tobacco.


We banned tobacco smoking in multifamily apartments with shared ventilation. Had a few screams of civil rights violation and the like, but we carried on.

I can remember when we banned smoking downtown at the request of the Todos Santos businesses and then expanded it by two blocks. This resulted in a protest in the council chamber full of seniors from the 8- and 14-story apartments off of the Plaza, complete with their wheelchairs, walkers … and oxygen tanks. The group said that they could not smoke in the apartments and that we were taking their smoking station across the street away from them. It was like that anti-smoking commercial where the woman finally takes a drag through a hole in her throat.

The council still unanimously extended the no-smoking zone. They moved their smoke hangout two corners away and to this day the survivors still gather just outside the zone.

Targeting youth smoking

This month, the City Council took another step in the fight against our native plant species by trying to curb smoking. We hope to make it harder for youth to start through the following rules:

  1. Minimum package size of cigarettes is 20.
  2. Minimum price of a pack of cigarettes is $10. Carton price above $10 is not affected.
  3. Minimum quantity of cigars and cigarillos is 10.
  4. Minimum price of a pack of cigars and cigarillos is $10.
  5. Premium cigars can be sold individually at $5 each.
  6. Yearly regular inspections of all tobacco selling retailers.
  7. A system of decoys to stop youth from using adults to buy for them.
  8. Flavored tobacco is still regulated by the state.
  9. The two hookah lounges in the city were grandfathered in to continue, but all products must be consumed onsite.
  10. Review the tobacco license fee enforcement and costs.

The prices above are not taxes. They are kept by the retailer.

I also believe that the school districts would be a great ally in all this if they would get control over their bathrooms and disrupt the use by youth in their facilities. However, the city has no authority over that, and we can have the fantasy of charging them with contributing to the delinquency of minors for not doing so.

It is going to take a lot to stop the scourge of tobacco. However, we might take note of a possible path by looking back to John Rolfe and the critical phrase that it was a successful “cash crop.” Edi Birsan, your friendly vice mayor, remembers that smoking was the cause of his mother’s death at age 45. Views expressed are his. He can be reached at EdiBirsan@gmail.com.